“My opinion is that a poet should express the emotion of all the ages and the thought of his own.” – Thomas Hardy
While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898 on his 58th birthday. Born on this day in 1840, he initially gained fame as the author of novels, including many that we still study, and which are still being made into modern day movies, like last year’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure are two of his other better-known works.
Considered a Victorian realist, Hardy wrote to examine and challenge the social constraints on the lives of those living in Victorian England. He criticized those beliefs, especially the ones relating to marriage, education and religion that limited people's lives and caused unhappiness. That made him popular among ordinary people, especially the middle class.
A prolific writer, he produced 20 novels, dozens and dozens of short stories, several plays, and 15 volumes of poetry – a medium in which he could share ideas and explore new causes even in his later years. He literally composed poetry until his final breath, dictating his last poem to his wife while on his death bed in 1928.
Time changes everything,” Hardy wrote about his willingness to try new things, “except something within us which is always surprised by change.”
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