Thomas Hardy biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, on June 2, 1840, where his father worked as a master mason and builder. From his father he gained an appreciation of music, and from his mother an appetite for learning and the delights of the countryside about his rural home.
Hardy was frail as a child, and did not start at the village school until he was eight years old. One year later he transferred to a new school in the county town of Dorchester.
At the age of 16 Hardy helped his father with the architectural drawings for a restoration of Woodsford Castle. The owner, architect James Hicks, was impressed by the younger Hardy's work, and took him on as an apprentice.
Hardy later moved to London to work for prominent architect Arthur Blomfield. He began writing, but his poems were rejected by a number of publishers. Although he enjoyed life in London, Hardy's health was poor, and he was forced to return to Dorset.
In 1870 Hardy was sent to plan a church restoration at St. Juliot in Cornwall. There he met Emma Gifford, sister-in-law of the vicar of St.Juliot. She encouraged him in his writing, and they were married in 1874.
Hardy published his first novel, Desperate Remedies in 1871, to universal disinterest. But the following year Under the Greenwood Tree brought Hardy popular acclaim for the first time. As with most of his fictional works, Greenwood Tree incorporated real places around Dorset into the plot, including the village school of Higher Bockhampton that Hardy had first attended as a child.
Emma Hardy died in November 1912, and was buried in Stinsford churchyard. Thomas was stricken with guilt and remorse, but the result was some of his best poetry, expressing his feelings for his wife of 38 years.
Thomas Hardy - short biography by Schoolnet.
Max Gate, Dorchester - Hardy's final home, now in the care of the National Trust.
Dorset County Museum, Dorchester - houses a huge collection of Hardy memorabilia.
Hardy's Cottage, Higher Bockhampton, Dorset - Hardy's birthplace, National Trust
Stinsford - Hardy's heart is buried here in the grave of his first wife Emma.
Also try our Suggested Itineraries for touring Hardy's Dorset
Discounted Historic Hotels
Name the Historic attraction
British Heritage Awards
Celebrate the best of British Heritage in our annual
British History Quiz
This monastery on the banks of the River Tyne was the home of scholar and author The Venerable Bede
It was founded by St Benedict Biscop in 681
Its famous library, where Bede wrote, was founded by Benedict with relics and books from Rome
This Day in British History
20 August, 1912
Death of William Booth
Booth (b. 1829) founded the Salvation Army in 1865 and served as its first General