Step into the World of Thomas HardyWednesday, June 8th, 2011
Thomas Hardy has been popping up in the media quite a bit lately, and this week his 1914 love poem Under the Waterfall appeared in the Guardian for their Poem of the Week feature.
There seems to have been a real resurgence in interest in Dorchester’s most famous son this year, possibly helped by the fact that 2011 marks the 120th anniversary of the publication of Hardy’s most famous novel Tess of the d’Ubervilles.
With interest so high, we’re hoping plenty of extra visitors from both the UK and overseas will be heading to Hardy country this summer to visit his home and see the locations that inspired the beautiful pastoral world he described so vividly in his novels.
Hardy Cottage is located in Bockhampton, 3 miles from Dorchester. It was built by Thomas Hardy’s grandfather, and as well as being the novelist’s birthplace it is also where he wrote one of his most successful novels, Far from the Madding Crowd.
The beautiful cob and thatched house is maintained by the National Trust, and is open to visitors on selected days from March to October.
Max Gate, the imposing red brick town house on the outskirts of Dorchester, was designed by Thomas Hardy himself and was his home for 40 years until his death in 1928. It has recently been opened to the public, and is now open from Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm.
Hardy fans will find it fascinating, as it was from here that Hardy wrote many famous works, including Tess of the D’ubervilles. Here’s a recent article from The Telegraph about the history of Max Gate.
Dorset County Museum
Sadly Max Gate today has retained very little of its interior decor from Hardy’s time in residence. To see Hardy’s study as it would have looked then, you need to visit the Dorset County Museum on Dorchester High Street.
The museum houses a replica of Hardy’s study as it appeared in his final years, featuring his desk, pens, and his boyhood violin, along with a calendar stopped on the day of his death.
The museum is also home to the world’s largest collection of Hardy memorabilia, including manuscripts, books, diaries, photographs, notebooks and paintings which were gifted to the museum by his second wife Florence Hardy
Visiting Dorchester from Abroad
We know Thomas Hardy is enormously popular in America, and given the close proximity to other historic areas in the UK like London and Bath, we would encourage anyone visiting from overseas with an interest in Hardy to spend a couple of days down here in Dorset taking in Thomas Hardy country and visiting the important places in his life.
Dorchester is just a couple of hours from London by train, and is easy to get to by road. Train information can be found at South West Trains.
Many people in the UK already know about the beauty and rich history of Hardy’s Dorset, but we’d like the message to spread further and gain the international recognition we think it deserves.