The county of Dorset , England is the heart of Thomas Hardy's Wessex . There he was born, and there he spent all but a few years of his long life.
Thomas Hardy is now regarded throughout the world as one of the greatest of English writers. His total achievement as novelist, poet, short story writer, and writer of that remarkable poetic drama, The Dynasts, is such that he is thought by many as second in greatness only to Shakespeare. Among his fourteen published novels have been such successes as Far from the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Woodlanders and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. His Complete Poems has been continuously in print ever since the 1920s, and among its 948 poems are many that have been anthologized many times. The reasons for this lasting appeal are many – a tremendous honesty to his own deep and sensitive experience of life, immense scholarship, astonishing powers of observation and wide-ranging technical skills being just some of them. But above all there is his compassion and ability to empathise with suffering human-kind. ‘What are my books,’ he said once, ‘but one long plea against man’s inhumanity to man, to woman, and to the lower creatures?
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), pictured here in middle age, wrote 15 novels, 47 short stories, and hundreds of poems. He is best remembered for his five major novels -- Far From the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure.
Although his first volume of poetry was not published until 1898, Hardy wrote his first poem, "Domicilium" in 1856 at the age of 16, and his last poems in 1927, just months before his death in January, 1928. Thus, Hardy's poetic career spanned more than seven decades, more than twice the length of his career as novelist.
Approximately one half of Hardy's sixty-year literary career was devoted to the novel. From 1871 until 1897, Hardy wrote fifteen novels, fourteen of which were published. His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, never found a publisher, and Hardy eventually burned the manuscript