Interesting quotes by Thomas Hardy
“You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them.”
“Some folk want their luck buttered.”
“That man’s silence is wonderful to listen to.”
“And yet to every bad there is a worse.”
“Everybody is so talented nowadays that the only people I care to honor as deserving real distinction are those who remain in obscurity.”
A brief biography of Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy was born June 2, 1840 in Stinsford, Dorset, England. He was a poet and novelist, and though he wrote poetry for the majority of his life, his first volume of poetic works, Wessex Poems, would not be published until 1898. Before that, Hardy achieved success writing novels starting with, Desperate Remedies in 1871. He proceeded to write a handful more, including his well known novels The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and, Jude the Obscure. The latter two and Far from the Maddening Crowd were posted in The Big Read—a survey conducted by the BBC where readers would vote on novels. In almost all of Hardy’s books the setting took place in a district called “Wessex”—modeled after a medieval Anglo-Saxon domain.
Thomas Hardy was born into a working-class family. His father was a mason and worked in construction. Hardy’s mother was well-educated and she taught Thomas until he was sent to school at the age of eight. Afterwards, he would continue his education at Mr. Last’s Academy for Young Gentlemen, where he transcended academically and learned Latin. Unfortunately, Hardy’s family couldn’t provide him with a college education, so instead he became an apprentice to a neighboring architect.
In 1862, Thomas moved to London where he finally attended King’s College, and received accolades from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association. Joining a company, he worked as an assistant architect on the All Saint’s Church in Windsor—following a lead position of excavating part of St. Pancras Old Church’s graveyard—to make way for the Midland Railway, including a new terminal located at St. Pancras.
After five years, Hardy returned to Dorset with the decision to become a writer. However, on his last architect project, a restoration of St. Juliot Church, he met his wife, Emma Gifford, and they married in 1874. In 1885, they settled into their home, Max Gate, a house designed by Thomas Hardy. Eventually, they became estranged—possibly due to the fact they couldn’t have children. In 1910, Thomas Hardy was selected as member of the Order of Merit, while also being nominated for the Nobel Prize for the first time. He would be nominated for a second time a little over a decade later.
Sadly, in 1912, Hardy’s wife, Emma, died from heart failure and other complications. This had a profound affect on him when he found a journal in her attic room. The journal was titled What I Think of My Husband, which caused him to feel remorse and regret for providing her with such an unhappy life. She was buried at St. Michael’s in Stinsford, where Hardy bestowed her grave with an inscripted wreath: “From her lonely husband, with the Old Affection” Before his wife’s death, Thomas was working with his secretary, Florence Dugdale—a former school teacher who stopped her career upon meeting Hardy in 1905. Florence worked as his assistant, while aspiring to become a writer. In 1912, she published her first book, complete with a contribution from her boss. Within the same year, after Hardy’s first wife’s death, Florence moved into Max Gate, and afterwards the two married in 1913, even though she was nearly forty years younger than Hardy. However, with Thomas still grieving the loss of his first wife, Florence felt neglected in their marriage and believed Hardy’s poetry was often about Emma instead of her. Thomas Hardy made a trip to Cornwall, to recount and reflect the early years of his first marriage, producing Poems of 1912-1913. This resulted in a life of agony and humiliation for Florence, but when Hardy died she was so distraught a doctor was called to her aid.
Thomas Hardy’s health took a decline in 1927 and he died one year later on January 11, 1928. The cause of his death was pleurisy. He wrote his last poem while on his deathbed, which he dedicated to his late wife, Emma.
His funeral was held at Westminster Abbey, but there was an issue surrounding his burial. Hardy wished to be buried next to his first wife at St. Michael’s, while his executor claimed Hardy should be interred at the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. However, an agreement between Hardy’s family and the executor was finally met—Thomas Hardy’s heart would be buried next to his first wife, Emma, at St. Michael’s in Stinsford and his ashes would reside in the Poets’ Corner.
Thomas Hardy was regarded as a mentor to up and coming poets. Following his death, poets in the likes of Ezra Pound and Philip Larkin praised Hardy’s poetic works. The native home where Thomas Hardy was born, and his house, Max Gate, are owned by the National Trust and are open to the public.
- Emilio Aguinaldo
- Ethel Lynn Beers
- Madison Cawein
- Mortimer Collins
- James David Corrothers
- Eugene Debs
- Frederick Douglass
- Paul Laurence Dunbar
- Henry Wilmarth Hazzen
- William Hope Hodgson
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Edgar Allan Poe
- Robert Louis Stevenson
- Bram Stoker
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- Mark Twain
- August Vogel
- Walt Whitman
- John Greenleaf Whittier
- Oscar Wilde
- Kaiser Wilhelm II