Biography of Thomas Hardy

Topics: Thomas Hardy, Novel, Dorchester, Dorset Pages: 11 (4146 words) Published: January 15, 2013
Biography of Thomas hardy
Thomas Hardy was an English novelist and poet who set much of his work in Wessex, his name for the counties of southwestern England. He initially pursued architecture, his father's work, but after finding success in his novel Far from the Madding Crowd(1874), he gave it up and wrote with abandon. His works ultimately question the Victorian status quo and asks what else would make more sense. Thomas Hardy’s life can be divided into three phases. The first phase (1840-1870) embraces childhood, adolescence, apprenticeship, first marriage, early poems and his first unpublished novel. The second phase (1871-1897) is marked by intensive writing, which resulted in the publication of 14 novels and a number of short stories. In the third phase (1898-1928), the period of the writer’s rising fame, he abandoned writing novels and returned to poetry. Childhood and youth

Thomas Hardy was born on 2 June 1840 in a brick and thatch two-storey cottage in the hamlet called Higher Bockhampton, in the parish of Stinsford, about three miles east of Dorchester, the county town of Dorset. With the exception of five years, Hardy lived all his long life in his home county. Both of Hardy’s parents were of Dorset origin. His father, also named Thomas, was a self-employed master mason and building contractor. The Hardys were an old Dorset family, which had descended from the Le Hardy family residing in the Isle of Jersey since the 15th century. One of the ancestors, Le Clement Hardy, was lieutenant-governor of Jersey in 1488. Another kinsman, Sir Thomas Hardy (1769-1839) was Admiral Horatio Nelson’s aide and best friend. At the turn of the eighteenth century the family experienced a rapid economic decline. Hardy’s mother, Jemima, was a former maidservant and cook. She came from a poor family, but she had acquired from her mother a love of reading, and her literary tastes included Latin poets and French romances in English translation. She provided for her son’s education. First she taught little Thomas to read and write before he was four, and then she instilled in him a growing interest in literature. Hardy had a great affection for his mother throughout all her life. His father, who was a keen violin player, passed on to young Thomas a love of music. Both Thomas’s father and paternal grandfather were important members of the Stinsford Parish Church choir. As Paul Turner writes: “Apart from parental influences, Hardy’s childhood was dominated by two things: the local church, and the natural world around him.”. (6) Hardy received his early schooling at the local National School in Lower Bockhampton, which opened in 1848. The school was run by the “National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church”. In 1850, when he was ten, Jemima Hardy enrolled her son at a non-conformist school run by the British and Foreign School Society in Dorchester, where he learnt Latin and French among other subjects. Young Thomas had begun his formal education at the age of eight and ended at the age of 16. However, as a boy, he read both Greek and Roman classics in translation and the Bible, which he knew exceptionally well. He was also very fond of reading romances. His favourite authors were William Harrison Ainsworth, Walter Scott, and Alexander Dumas. In addition, he read Shakespeare’s tragedies. Although he was quite fond of school, he preferred solitude and reading books. In Dorset young Thomas witnessed the decline of the old pastoral society and the rise of industrialism. Apprenticeship

Unable to pursue a scholarly or clerical career, Hardy became apprenticed in 1856 to a local architect, John Hicks, who specialised in church restoration. His occupation required extensive trips to various locations in Dorset. At Hick’s office Hardy met another boy, Henry Bastow, who had a similar interest in classical literature, especially poetry, and in religious matters. Hardy could only read early in...
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