A brief discussion about Thomas Hardy
“Remember that the best and greatest among mankind are those who do themselves no worldly good. Every successful man is more or less a selfish man. The devoted fail…”
― Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure
This is Thomas Hardy and his projection of the hard- core reality about humankind. But who is he? Before further elaboration, we need to know about his background in order to understand the mindset behind his writing the above quoted lines.
Thomas Hardy was born on 2nd June 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, a hamlet in the parish of Dorset, England, where his father Thomas was a simple stonemason and local builder, and his mother Jemima was an educated woman who tried to educate his father as well. He started his academic life from a school at Bockhampton at the age of eight but could not continue it for long because of the lack of resources. His formal education ended at the age of sixteen when he became the apprentice of an architect. His willingness of education is portrayed in his novels likeJude the Obscure and The Return of Native.
Hardy was trained as an architect before he went to London in 1862. But he didn’t feel like home there because of the continuous feeling of class division and inferiority. After five years he came back to Dorset and decided to dedicate himself to writing.
Romantic relations and marriage
In 1870, while he was on an architectural mission, he met and fell in love with Emma Gifford, whom he married in Kensington in late 1874. Then, in 1885 they moved to Max Gate, a house designed by him and built by his brother. After so many years of love, they were separated because of Emma’s death in 1912 which had a traumatic effect on him. His later poems of 1912-1913 reflect his sufferings caused by her death. Later in 1914 he married his secretary Florence Emily Dugdale but couldn’t overcome the trauma of his first wife’s death. He also had a pet named Wessex, whose name he fictionalized later.
Hardy was very much traumatized to see the destruction in the first world war. That’s why his works always reflected the loss and sufferings which he had faced throughout his life. He died in the year 1928 and about his burial it is said that his heart was buried at Stinsfordwhere Emma was buried and his ashes in Poet’s Corner.
Finally, it can be said that Hardy not only enriched the literature with his creations, but also influenced budding writers like D. H. Lawrence, John Cowper Powys, and Virginia Woolf.