Thomas Hardy's musical manuscript poem sold for £5,000

Thomas Hardy music and poem
Image caption The manuscripts sets the poem 'O, I won't lead a homely life' to music

A manuscript on which Thomas Hardy set one of his poems to music has been sold for £5,000 at auction.

The 16-bar melody in D Major is believed to be the only musical manuscript in the Dorset writer's own hand still to exist.

The poem "O, I won't lead a homely life" was written in pencil below the score, though to an old folk tune.

A spokesman at Bonhams auctioneers in London said it was bought by an overseas collector.

The manuscript, dating from 1922, had been sold by a private owner and did not quite reach its guide price of £6,000.

The spokesman said although it meant the manuscript would be leaving the country, it also showed "the international appeal of Hardy".

Mike Nixon, secretary of the Thomas Hardy Society, described the paper as "very exciting and significant."

While Hardy is better known for his novels and poetry, he also took part in musical performances at Stinsford Church and his home at Max Gate near Dorchester.

Mr Nixon said: "He loved music and played old Dorset folk tunes on the fiddle - he had a fine musical heritage."

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