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Thomas Hardy Collection Comes Home

Thursday, April 1st, 2010
104-year-old Norrie Woodhall
104-year-old Norrie Woodhall

Campaigners celebrated the news yesterday that the famous Thomas Hardy collection is returning to Dorchester.

The unique collection of scripts, play scripts and stage set models created by Hardy himself were saved from leaving the country and spending the rest of their days in the United States.

The literary lovers raised an incredible £58,750 to keep the historic Hardy items in Dorset and they will go on show at Dorset County Museum.

Norrie Woodhall

One campaigner added her own little piece of history – 104-year old Norrie Woodhall is the last person alive to have known Hardy, having been in the Hardy players as a girl and the only one of the originals still around. She added her own style and passion to the fundraising.

Norrie performed as a member of the New Hardy Players during an evening of fundraising at the museum which raised £2,500.

Norrie said:

“I’m thrilled that we’ve got them. The manuscripts are now back where they should be and where they belong.”

With the date looming for the manuscripts to leave for America, the Culture Minister Margaret Hodge placed a temporary export ban on the manuscripts to give a UK organisation time to secure it.

The Dorset County Museum, Exeter University, Dorset History Centre, The New Hardy Players and the Thomas Hardy Society worked together to ensure there was a happy ending to this story and the manuscripts remained in Dorset.

Andy Worth, of the New Hardy Players, said:

“We’re delighted and excited to have acquired these interesting manuscripts.

“We’ll be able to use the scripts as guidance for when we perform Tess in 2011. We can’t wait to see them and make use of them. People will come from all over the world.”

It is hoped that the historic collection – currently held in a London bookshop – will arrive in Dorchester by the end of April and will be enjoyed by local visitors.

Thomas Hardy Manuscript Celebrations.

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