Explore Thomas Hardy this EasterFriday, April 2nd, 2010
Thomas Hardy promoted the beautiful countryside and unspoilt landscape of his native county of Dorset through his books and poetry. If you have enjoyed reading Thomas Hardy’s books and poems or viewed the TV adaptations of his books, you will find many of the places he writes about within a short drive, walk or cycle of the county town of Dorchester. We are very fortunate that Thomas Hardy’s literature has been saved and this Easter why not visit the birthplace of this region’s most famous author.
The son of a local stonemason, Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton located three miles northeast of Dorchester on the 2nd June 1840. He was educated locally at the village school and later in Dorchester. He trained first as an architect in London, before returning to Dorset to write his first novel. His grandfather built ‘Hardy’s Cottage’, and the cob and thatched house is now looked after by the National Trust, allowing visitors to explore the home of his upbringing and to view the room where he wrote ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. This same cottage becomes Hardy’s inspiration for Tranter Dewy’s House in his novel ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’.
Thomas Hardy’s Cottage and grounds are open daily from 14th Mar–28th October (except Fridays and Saturdays). The admission Price is £3.50 and whilst there you can enjoy a walk through the garden and woods or beyond into Puddletown Forest.
Max Gate the home of Thomas Hardy
In 1885 Thomas Hardy and his wife Emma moved into Max Gate, located 1 mile east of Dorchester. the Victorian home that he himself designed and which his brother built.
Max Gate was Hardy’s home for forty years, until he died in 1928 and whilst there he wrote some of his most famous works, The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Woodlanders, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, The Dynasts as well as numerous poems and short stories.
Thomas Hardy’s last home Max Gate offers a revealing look into Hardy’s personal life by offering a catalogue of the books that were in Hardy’s library.
The hall, dining and drawing rooms and garden are open to the public. Admission price is £3.00 per adult, £1.50 per children and private visits, tours and seminars for schools, colleges and literary societies are by appointment.
Thomas Hardy Trail
When in Dorset, you can retrace the route of the ‘Mellstock Quire’ characters from his novel ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and climb to ‘Rainbarrow’ as did Eustacia Vye in ‘Return of the Native’. The Hardy Society has published tours and trails based around the individual novels and poems, each with biographical detail.
Memorabilia Collection at Dorset County Museum
While in Dorchester town why not visit the Dorset County Museum which houses the main collection of Thomas Hardy memorabilia. The dedicated Thomas Hardy gallery houses a comprehensive collection of manuscripts, books, diaries, photographs, notebooks and paintings – he was a prolific writer. At the centre of the Gallery is the reconstruction of Hardy’s study at Max Gate, with all his books and furniture, including his desk and pens. The Dorset Country Museum contains the largest Hardy memorabilia collection in the world, the bulk of which was bequeathed to the Museum by his second wife Florence Hardy.
A bronze statue of Hardy by Eric Kennington is located a short walk from the museum at the Top O’ Town.
The Thomas Hardy Society 19th International Conference and Festival
The Thomas Hardy Society’s 19th International Conference & Festival will be held in Dorchester, Dorset on 24th July to 1st August 2010. The programme contains an exciting mix of lectures, seminars, talks, poetry readings, excursions, walks and entertainments.
Have a great Easter!