Thomas Hardy was born in Stinsford on 2nd June 1840. He was born into a working-class family, where his father worked as a stonemason and builder. Thomas’ mother, Jemima, was a keen reader, and used her knowledge to educate her son until he started school at the age of eight. His rural upbringing was one of the major influences on his later writing.
At school, Hardy demonstrated a keen ability in Mathematics and Latin. However, due to the family’s lack of wealth, he was unable to continue his education after leaving school. In 1856 he was apprenticed to John Hicks to work as an architect, a profession in which he continued until 1870.
It was during the same year that Thomas Hardy met Emma Lavinia Gifford, during a project to restore a parish church in Cornwall. Emma was the daughter-in-law of the rector there, and it was not long before Hardy fell in love with her. The couple were happily married in 1874, and in the same year Hardy’s first major literary success, Far from the Madding Crowd, was published. The novel was the final product of 11 monthly instalments in Tinsley’s Magazine. At this point he was able to give up his architectural work and pursue his dream of writing as a career.
In 1883, with the help of his brother, Hardy began constructing his own house in Dorchester. He and Emma moved into the house in 1885, naming it Max Gate. The following year he published his first major novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge. Four years later, he published Tess of the d’Urbervilles. These two novels are widely considered among his greatest works as a writer.
Emma Hardy died in 1912, causing a period of grief that Thomas never truly recovered from – despite his remarriage to Florence Dugdale in 1914. The writer’s grief was reflected in much of his poetry during this period.
After struggling with pleurisy (a severe lung infection), Thomas Hardy himself died on 11th January 1928.