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Hardy’s Wessex

The Landscapes that Inspired a Writer

The fascinating story of Thomas Hardy’s life and work. 

Internationally acclaimed writer Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) is best known for his evocative depictions of the West Country landscape and its people, a region that he called “Wessex.” What is lesser known is that this landscape also inspired him in many other aspects of his life, from campaigning for animal welfare to questioning the way society viewed women. This publication accompanies a multi-venue exhibition of the largest collection of Thomas Hardy memorabilia ever to be displayed at once. 

Throughout Hardy’s eighty-seven-year life, the West Country changed dramatically. Ideas of women’s roles, humans’ responsibility to animals, the realities of war, and how people related to the world around them altered fundamentally. Through his stories and campaigning, Hardy was keen to show not only the rural idyll but also the tensions and difficulties that lay beneath these views.

These dramatic landscapes were the lens through which Hardy presented his worldview to his readership. The landscapes shape his characters, whose stories, in turn, convey his messages of social change to his readers. Uniting beautiful landscape imagery with a selection of personal items from Hardy’s life, this book presents the man behind the literature, exploring the impact that Wessex had on Hardy’s works and how living there shaped his views on the often divisive social issues of the period.

60 pages | 50 color plates | 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 | © 2022

Art: British Art

Biography and Letters

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

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