Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928) an English novelist and poet, regarded himself primarily as a poet, though his first collection was not published until 1898. His fame stemmed from novels such as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) and Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891). Hardy's poetry was rediscovered in the 1950s, when its relative plain-speaking had an influence on the Movement poets of the 1950s and 1960s, including Philip Larkin. In his novels, tragic characters combat emotional and social circumstances in a semi-fictional region based on the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Hampshire and much of Berkshire, which Hardy called ‘Wessex’. As an author, he stands at the cusp of the twentieth century with its more Ironic take on Life and meaning, as these quotes from his novels and diaries indicate:
'Sometimes I shrink from your knowing what I have felt for you, and sometimes I am distressed that all of it you will never know.'
‘Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.'
'She was of the stuff of which great men's mothers are made. She was indispensable to high generation, feared at tea-parties, hated in shops, and loved at crises.'
'They spoke very little of their mutual feeling; pretty phrases and warm expressions being probably unnecessary between such tried friends.'
'So each had a private little sun for her soul to bask in; some dream, some affection, some hobby, or at least some remote and distant hope....'
'A strong woman who recklessly throws away her strength, she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away.'
'This hobble of being alive is rather serious, don’t you think so?'
'Beauty lay not in the thing, but in what the thing symbolised.'
'Well, what I mean is that I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband.’
'It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs.'
'...our impulses are too strong for our judgement sometimes’
'People go on marrying because they can't resist natural forces, although many of them may know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month's pleasure with a life's discomfort.'
'The beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in its achievements, but in its aims and impulses; its true history lay, not among things done, but among things willed.'
'Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?'
'All like ours?'
'I don't know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound - a few blighted.'
'Which do we live on - a splendid one or a blighted one?'
'A blighted one.'
'Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness.'
'Why is it that a woman can see from a distance what a man cannot see close?’
'Did it never strike your mind that what every woman says, some women may feel?'
'Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks…'
'But no one came. Because no one ever does.'
'A man's silence is wonderful to listen to.'