The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)
Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)
Jude the Obscure (1896)
The works of the English novelist, poet, and dramatist Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) unite the Victorian and modern eras. His work revealed the strains that widespread industrialization and urbanization placed on traditional English life. Major social changes took place during Hardy's life. When he was a young man, England still had a largely agricultural economy and Queen Victoria presided over an ever-expanding worldwide empire. By the time he died, the forces of modernization had changed England forever. Works in Biographical and Historical Context
Early Years During a Period of Rapid Industrialization in England Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in Higher Bockhampton in Dorset, England, which later would form part of the “Wessex” of his novels and poems. During his early years, Hardy witnessed the changing of his landscape and rural community brought on by the Industrial Revolution. While the Industrial Revolution had begun at the turn of the nineteenth century, it was ongoing through the beginning of the twentieth century. Populations increasingly shifted from the country to the cities. Railroads linked towns and villages that were once remote to major urban centers. And with new mobility and new economic pressure, people faced new social issues, too, including a sharp spike in prostitution rates and infamous abuses of child labor in factories and mines After attending local schools, Hardy was apprenticed in 1856 to John Hicks, an architect in Dorchester. During his time as apprentice architect, Hardy read many of the influential works of the era, such as Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species (1859), which was published when Hardy was nineteen. By the time he was twenty, Hardy had abandoned religion after being convinced of the intellectual truth of a godless universe. Early...