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Thomas Hardy Festival

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
Thomas Hardy Statue
Thomas Hardy Statue

The county town will host the Nineteenth International Thomas Hardy Conference and Festival from 24th July to 1st August 2010, marking the 170th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Hardy. The popular literary event is organised by The Thomas Hardy Society and attracts Hardy fans from countries including Russia, Japan, Italy and America. The Thomas Hardy Festival brings together academics and enthusiasts who enjoy Hardy’s books and celebrates the enduring global recognition of a man who was very much a local Dorset novelist and poet.


Conference & Festival Programme


The Thomas Hardy society, established in 1968, organises a full schedule of Thomas Hardy events giving both the academic and devotee an opportunity to experience Hardy’s large volume of work through a series of lectures, seminars, musical entertainment, exhibitions, new writings from Wessex, competitions, drama, film, guided walks, coach tours and poetry.

All lectures will take place in the United Church in South Street; other event locations are indicated in the festival programme. The Conference will open at 7pm on 24th July with a Reception at the Thomas Hardye School, Coburg Road.

Sir Andrew Motion former Poet Laureate and knighted for his services to literature in 2009 will give a reading of his latest collection of poems, The Cinder Path, as well as references to Hardy’s work. Tickets for the Sir Andrew Motion readings are £10 with £4 concessions for students.

A programme full with varied events to suite everyone

The academic lectures and seminars will be given by renowned scholars who will cover the many different aspects of Hardy’s life and works. There will be ample opportunity to join in discussions with morning lectures and afternoon seminars. Highlights of the festival programme include:

The New Hardy Players8pm Sunday 25 July at the United Church

The New Hardy Players will be performing ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ one of Thomas Hardy’s most famous books.

Poet Brian Patten – 8pm Monday 26 July at the United Church


Brian has written numerous adult and children’s poetry collections and is known for his ability to write and perform a mix of serious and humorous work.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Wessex Voices’ – 8pm Tuesday 27 July at the United Church

Entertainment presented by Alan Chedzoy & Jane Chedzoy. Dr Alan Chedzoy is well know in Dorset and beyond for his performances of the writings of Thomas Hardy and recordings of Thomas Hardy poems.


Art Exhibition – 11am – 6pm, 26th – 31st July at Corn Exchange


For art lovers, local artist David Brackston will exhibit paintings, drawings and engravings of places, people and scenes in Hardy’s works in the Magistrates’ Room at the Corn Exchange.



Walks and tours – Sunday 25th to Friday 30th July


You can enjoy guided walks around the local sites that influenced Thomas Hardy’s work and also coach trips to visit Boscastle in Cornwall, Sherborne and Swanage. Full details on costs and times can be found in the festival schedule.

Society secretary Mike Nixon said in a recent Dorset Echo article “It is truly an international festival. It will also help the local economy. The festival brings people into the town, who stay in hotels and use restaurants, cafes, bars and shops.”


Tickets for individual events are available from the Thomas Hardy office, or on the door, or at the Box Office at the United Church (during conference & festival week). Unless otherwise indicated, tickets for lectures are £8, or £15 for 2 lectures. Ticket prices for the main evening events are listed in the festival programme. Free festival programmes are available in the Dorset Echo office in Antelope Walk, Dorchester. Full Conference members are eligible to attend all lectures and entertainments. The Conference Secretary can be contacted on for more details.

We hope you enjoy the magnificent Thomas Hardy Conference and Festival which has been made possible through sponsorship and support from various local organisations including Dorset Echo, Dorchester Town Council, Dorset County Council and ourselves DBID.

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