Thursday, June 2, 2016

Born Today June 2: Thomas Hardy


Famed British novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was born in Higher Bockhampton in the hamlet of Stinsford, Dorset, England in the UK (today the town is Upper Bockhampton, in Dorchester), to a stonemason and local builder and his well read wife.  His mother, Jemima, educated Thomas herself, until he was old enough, at age 8, to attend school.  The family did not have the means to send him for higher education, so his formal schooling ended at the age of 16, when he was apprenticed to local architect James Hicks.  He remained in the position until 1862, when he moved himself to London and was able to enroll in King's College.  While there, he won prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects and from the Architectural Association.  He was then put in charge of excavation of the graveyard at the St. Pancras Old Church, one of the oldest--if not the oldest--Christian places of worship in England.  The graveyard was later destroyed to make way for the local Midland Railway.  Also while living in London, he was introduced to the literary works of several influential authors, including John Stuart Mill.  Never fully feeling at home in London, and with his health worsening, he returned to Dorset just five years later; settling in Weymouth.  It is here, at this time, that he decided to devout his life to writing.  After marrying his first wife, the couple moved into a home in Max Gate that he had designed and built by his brother.  This is where the writing really took off; he would remain in the home for the rest of his life.  Films of his work were produced during his lifetime; the first of which came in 1913 with Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a film directed by one of Edison's men J. Searle Dawley (unfortunately it is a lost film).  In all, 5 films were made from his work before 1930; with The Greenwood Tree, released a year after his death, being the first in sound.  The latest films based on his work include: Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) and North Of Cheyenne (also based on Madding Crowd) having just been announced.  In December of 1927, Hardy became very ill with pleurisy; he lingered until around 9PM GMT on 11 January 1928.  His funeral was held on the 16th at Westminster Abbey; the end of which proved to be controversial.  Hardy had always expressed a wish to be interred with his first wife in Stinsford. An argument ensued between his remaining family and the executor of his will over interment; so a brokered compromise had to be reached.  His heart was buried in Stinsford, and the rest of his remains, in the form of ashes were interred in the "Poets Corner" within the Abbey.  

Stinsford Memorial in Dorset

Plaque at Westminster Abbey

Leave Virtual Flower at Find A Grave


Thomas Hardy at Poetry Foundation

No comments:

Post a Comment