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English Literature

Thomas Hardy: The Ruined Maid


Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was born in Dorset and was encouraged to develop a love for both education and stories by his mother, Jemima. He trained to be an architect and then moved to London to pursue his studies and career. After five years in the capital, he returned to Dorset and began writing more seriously.

His first writing career was as a novelist rather than a poet. Hardy published Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure which are now very well thought of but were criticised at the time. Such was the level of criticism for Jude the Obscure, Hardy decided to move away from writing books and turned to poetry.

The death of his wife Emma in 1912 had a huge impact on Hardy and he wrote many poems about her and his feelings for her. Even though he remarried (to his secretary, Florence Dugdale) it is said he never got over the loss of Emma.

Themes which recur in Hardy's writings are injustice, love, break ups, disappointment, fate and the unfair treatment of women. He was basically a traditionalist when it came to the form of poetry but one interesting thing he often did was include 'colloquial' language (language that is usually heard rather than read; spoken language which is usually not standard English).

Back to Poetry: Character and voice index

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