English novelist and poet who set much of his work in
Wessex, an imaginary county in southwestern England.
Thomas Hardy, the son of a stonemason, was born in
Dorsetshire, England, in 1840. He trained as an architect
and worked in London and Dorset for ten years. Hardy
began his writing career as a novelist, publishing Desperate
Remedies in 1871, and was soon successful enough to
leave the field of architecture for writing. His novels
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure
(1895), which are considered literary classics today,
received negative reviews upon publication and Hardy
was criticized for being too pessimistic and preoccupied
with sex. He left fiction writing for poetry, and published
eight collections, including Wessex Poems (1898) and
Satires of Circumstance (1912).
Hardy's poetry explores a fatalist outlook against
the dark, rugged landscape of his native Dorset. He
rejected the Victorian belief in a benevolent God, and
much of his poetry reads as a sardonic lament on the
bleakness of the human condition. A traditionalist in
technique, he nevertheless forged a highly original
style, combining rough-hewn rhythms and colloquial diction
with an extraordinary variety of meters and stanzaic
forms. A significant influence on later poets (including
Frost, Auden, Dylan Thomas, and Philip Larkin), his
influence has increased during the course of the century,
offering an alternative--more down-to-earth, less rhetorical--to
the more mystical and aristocratic precedent of Yeats.
Thomas Hardy died in 1928.