Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) is best known for his ‘Wessex Novels’, and his home county of Dorset is now known to literary tourists as ‘Hardy Country’. Yet Hardy’s own relationship with his background was a complex one. Education separated him from his forebears, and this chronicler of disappearing rural life in fact spent half his time in London, mixing in the literary world and high society. He was a highly ‘modern’ writer, his best-selling novels dealing with issues arising out of the changes in society wrought by the 19th-century industrialisation, and his frank description of sexual matters caused endless wrangling with bowdlerizing editors and publishers.
This new biography reveals the conflicts in both Hardy’s professional and personal life and describes a man intimately and dynamically engaged with the worlds of politics, ideas and culture as well as the world of rural ‘Wessex’; a novelist and a poet who fused a powerfully localised imagination with a cosmopolitan intellect.
TIM DOLAN is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia. He is the author of George Eliot (2005) and has edited and written introductions for a number of Penguin and World’s Classics editions of Hardy, including Tess of the d’Urbervilles, A Pair of Blue Eyes, Under the Greenwood Tree and The Hand of Ethelberta.