This Tuesday marks the death of one of Britain's most finest writers, today One Stop Poetry celebrates the work of poet & writer Thomas Hardy, who died 11th January 1928.
Hardy is famous for writing so many classic fictional tales, Far from the Madding Crowd & Tess of the D'Urbevilles, to name just two, but he always preferred to be known as a poet, writing novels for financial gain only. As a poet his was prolific, having written over 800 poems before his death, and most having been published!
Thomas Hardy was born 2nd June 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, situated in the small parish of Stinsford, near Dorchester, Dorset. His father, also named Thomas, was a stonemason & builder. Despite showing great academic potential, a college education was unaffordable, so at the age of 16 Thomas was to become an apprentice to a local architect in his village. Such was Hardy's promise at this that in 1862 he enrolled at King College, London, as a student of Architecture, winning many prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects & the Architectural Association. Hardy was to spend 5 years in London before returning to Dorset following concerns over his health.
In 1870 Hardy was to travel to Cornwall and undertake work on the restoration of St Juliots Church. It is here that he was to meet and fall in love with Emma Lavinia Gifford, whom he married in 1874. As a side note, St Juliots is situated very near Tintagel, my favourite place in the World. It was on a walk one day from Boscastle, a neighbouring village, through Valency Valley, heading inland, when my wife and I were to take shade at a Church looking down across the valley. Whilst taking rest we became aware that this was St Juliots, the Church restored by Hardy himself!
Emma was the love of Hardy's life and all though they were to be separated, she remained the main focus of his work. On her death in 1912, Hardy would undertake a trip to Cornwall revisiting the places linked to their courtship, resulting in the collection of Poems 1912 - 13, which reflects on her passing.
Although Hardy was to marry his secretary in 1914, who was nearly 40 years his junior, his love for Emma never waned. Having contracted pleurisy in the December, Hardy was to die on 11th January, 1928. At the nations request he was to be buried in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey, although his family and friends wished for him to be buried alongside Emma at the parish church in Stinsford where he was born. Eventually a compromise was agreed whereby his heart was buried with Emma and his ashes at Poets Corner. Alongside Hardy at Poets Corner lay other notable literary genius's such as Alfred Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Browning & Geoffrey Chaucer to name but a few.
On Sunday 16th January there is to be a memorial service held at Westminster Abbey, with a reading of his poetry to mark the 83rd anniversary of his burial.
Hardy was admired by many, including D H Lawrence, Robert Graves, Virginia Wolf and more recently Philip Larkin. In 1910 he was to be bestowed with the Order of Merit, which recognised his services to Literature.
The list of work associated with Hardy is immense, as well as the poetry, plays and short stories, the following are all novels written by him;
- Desperate Remedies (1871)
- Under the Greenwood Tree (1872)
- A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873)
- Far From the Madding Crowd (1874)
- The Hand of Ethelberta (1876)
- The Return of the Native (1878)
- The Trumpet Major (1880)
- A Laodicean (1881)
- Two on a Tower (1882)
- The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
- The Woodlanders (1887)
- A Group of Noble Dames (1891)
- Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)
- Jude the Obscure (1895)
- The Well-Beloved (1897)
|The Darkling Thrush|
by Thomas Hardy
I leant upon a coppice gate,
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to me
The Century's corpse outleant,
Its crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind its death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervorless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead,
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited.
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
With blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew,
And I was unaware.
Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 and died in 1928, living to be almost 88 years of age. During his life time the word was to change greatly.
To put the duration of his life into some perspective, the year that Hardy was born, 1840, also saw Queen Victoria marry Prince Albert and the introduction of the very first stamp, the penny black. In 1928, the year of his death, Andy Warhol was born, & Mickey Mouse appeared for the first time in the animated cartoon "Plane Crazy".