Thomas Hardy, born on 2 June 1840 is best known for his novels and poetry most of which are set in the semi made-up county of Wessex. His long career saw him go through many upheavals including World War I.“In Tenebris II”, he described himself as a poet “who holds that if way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst.”
His novels and poetry are well known world over. As a writer he was sensitive to the future while alive to the past. His mother has often been described as the real guiding star of his early life. His father, a stonemason and fiddler, influenced him with his musicality.
Here are 5 of his books that you must read.
Woman Much Missed
After the death of his wife Emma, a grief-stricken Hardy wrote some of the best verse of his career. Moving and evocative, it ranks among the greatest elegiac poetry in the language.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. With its sensitive depiction of the wronged Tess and powerful criticism of social convention, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, subtitled “A Pure Woman,” is one of the most moving and poetic of Hardy’s novels.
Under the Greenwood Tree
“Under the Greenwood Tree” is the story of the romantic entanglement between church musician, Dick Dewey, and the attractive new school mistress, Fancy Day. A pleasant romantic tale set in the Victorian era, “Under the Greenwood Tree” is one of Thomas Hardy’s most gentle and pastoral novels.
The Mayor of Casterbridge
In a fit of drunken anger, Michael Henchard sells his wife and baby daughter for five guineas at a country fair. Over the course of the following years, he manages to establish himself as a respected and prosperous pillar of the community of Casterbridge, but behind his success there always lurk the shameful secret of his past and a personality prone to self-destructive pride and temper. Subtitled “A Story of a Man of Character,” Hardy’s powerful and sympathetic study of the heroic but deeply flawed Henchard is also an intensely dramatic work, tragically played out against the vivid backdrop of a close-knit Dorsetshire town.
Two on a Tower
In this tale of star-crossed love, Hardy sets the emotional lives of his two lovers against the background of the stellar universe. This is Hardy’s most complete treatment of the theme of love across the class and age divide and the fullest expression of his fascination with science and astronomy.