Taking place each year in November, Lifelong Learning Week celebrates adult learners and shines the spotlight on just some of the brilliant work that’s taking place right across the sector. 

In partnership with our friends at the Learning for Work Institute and City Lit, we hosted a special free lecture for Lifelong Learning Week focusing on Thomas Hardy, a man regarded by many as the elder statesman of literature, which you can watch at the bottom of this blog.

Presented by Margaret Mills, Historian and titled Thomas Hardy: then and now, we explored what the world looked like in the 19th Century and the parallels we can draw with today. 

As the WEA celebrates its 120th anniversary, the lecture considers Hardy the man rather than the writer and what was happening in his life towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

If you enjoy this lecture, did you know that WEA members can join a free lecture each week? (And have access to an archive of over 100 recordings? )

If you're not already a WEA member, why not join our adult education movement, and get some great benefits too, for only £15 per year. WEA members receive:

  • access to our award-winning weekly members’ lecture series. Learn from our network of expert tutors, and interact with other members from your own home
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  • be part of a movement that helps others and transforms lives

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Video transcript

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Thank you very much, Fiona, and thank you, Simon. And I'd just like to say welcome.

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To everyone and I hope you enjoy the lecture on a man I find absolutely fascinating, Thomas Hardy. So, yes, match of party concerns over a hundred years ago are still around today and Hardy was very committed to many many things but one of the things he was committed to for the whole of his life was education and learning.

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He never stopped learning. He truly believed that learning is for life. So I think he'd have a lot in common with the WA.

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So, thomas Hardy. Yeah, the journey. Was absolutely incredible that took Thomas Hardy, novelist and poet as he later became and and certainly much loved in both of those spheres.

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It took him from a cottage. In higher Bock Hampton just outside Dorchester, Dorset in the West Country of England.

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To not one but 2 funerals at the end of his life. One was in a country child child.

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In his home village. And the other one was. In Westminster Abbey with the great and the good.

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Yeah, I, my screen went a bit funny there. I do apologize.

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You guys just said to everyone, please don't hit the screen share button please because that means you're going to share your screen with everybody.

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Thank you.

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Yeah, thanks everyone. I will tell you when I go on to the slides and I will tell you when I've changed the slides.

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Thank you. Yeah, so he made a remarkable journey. Born on the second of June, 1840.

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And that journey took him from his birth in a humble cottage in higher botan to 2 funerals, one in London in Westminster Abbey.

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And they other one in his home village. What was the reason behind that? Well, how do you express wish at the end of his life was to be buried in dogstick?

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He was a doorstep man. Dossip blood ran in his veins. He loved Dorset.

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It was his his county and that's where he wanted to be buried. However, by the time he died on the eleventh of January, the 1928.

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Of course he was famous, not only in Britain, but all over the world. And the public acclamation of him was such that they demanded that he have a funeral in London.

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So a comprise was reached. I search and came in, I'm removed Hearty's heart.

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And his heart was buried in St. Michael's Church, Stimford, Stensford. Very near higher Bock Hampton, his home village.

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And the rest of Hardy's body was cremated and buried in Poets Corner. And what's the happy?

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He had a huge national funeral and a measure of his status at the time of his death, and a measure of his status at the time of his death was that the pallbearers of his status at the time of his death was that the time of his death was that the pall bearers of his coffin were the pallbearers of his coffin were the Prime Minister.

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The leader of the opposition and leading scholars and academics. Of the dye. I'm fellow authors.

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Ratchard Kipling was won. So I think we get an idea of, reputation by then.

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He was a very private man, intensely private, and he destroyed many of his letters and notebooks.

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So we we luckily have other documentary evidence. But he gave all just to his executives on his death they were to be destroyed.

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He left us a new name. For the area in which he was born, bred, and grew up.

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Wessex and he took that name from the name of the old Anglo-saxon kingdom.

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Before England was unified as one kingdom.

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And he grew up with stories of working class rebellion working class.

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Pressure for a better way of life. He was sympathetic to the, to the Working class calls, he grew up with stories, he grew up with stories of charges, and with stories of the swing riots and she grew up with stories of the So working class rebellion and struggle for a better way of life was very much bred into him.

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He saw the countryside economy changing from agricultural to mechanical. So from agriculture to mechanization and industrialization, he was concerned about the deskilling of rural workers and a hundred Plus years later.

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Some of these concerns are still around today. I'm now going to share my screen. And hope you'll be able to see my slides.

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Okay, so there we are. Thomas Hardy then and now. I'm just going to move on from the title slide.

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Yeah, sorry, I'm having a few problems. With moving my slide.

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That's better. Yeah, these are just some of the books that He wrote and many of these titles may be very familiar to you.

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160 years ago, where Hardy was born was one of the poorest counties in England but he loved his home county passionately and of course today we can see the links between some of these concerns that I've mentioned and some of the topics that he brought into his books.

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Industrial unrest amongst the workers. Economic problems bringing about completely new and new way of working, completely new jobs.

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Some jobs disappearing forever, some jobs changing, bringing disruption to people's lives, hardship and changes in working practices.

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All of this hard you grew up with because of course The latter part of the nineteenth century that we're going to be looking at was no different to when Hargi was born.

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These were still the concerns and they are still concerns today. Hearty hertails at his mother's knee, as they say, of the working classes and local folklore, local legends.

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And hey was deeply interested in the lives of rural folk. He was no misery or kill joy.

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Anyone who thinks that Hardy's books concentrate on the miserable, the dull side of life are very, very wrong.

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Yes, certainly some of them are harrowing to read in places, but Hardy is a writer that brings us joy, pleasure and enjoyment of everyday things.

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He loved the world. He loved nature. He loved animals. Sea, sky.

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And he drew pleasure from life. Later in life, he wrote a poem called Great Things. And in the poem he says, Music is great, dancing is great.

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Horse riding is great. Nature is great. Cider drinking is great. So hearty or was stressed the good things in life as well, dancing, singing, drinking cider horse riding, enjoying yourself.

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A music above all, he was passionate about music. But he recognizes a class written system and he recognizes in justice, sadness, disadvantage and he acknowledged it.

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But he didn't succumb. To these things. Hey, addressed some of the sacred cows.

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Of the nineteenth century in his work and letters. To fellow authors, but what is going on into the 18 nineties and the early 19 hundreds in houses life.

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So we're going to be looking at what he was doing between the 18 nineties and up to his death in 1928.

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Obviously I'm not going to be able to bring in every aspect but I'm just changing my side now.

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I'm going to try and bring in as much as I can. So in the 1890, s where do we find Hardy?

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Well, he's married. He's, living in a house in, Oh, call Max Skype.

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Just outside Dogger. A house he designed himself. He was formerly an architect in his early life, studied architecture, became an architectural draftsman.

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And went into being an architect. This was very much an up and coming profession then because wealthy Victorians were having houses built and houses altered.

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But the 18 nineties, he's established, he's written some of his best known works.

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Such as a pair of blue eyes. He's written, the mayor of Castbridge. In which he mentions the criminalization.

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Off poor people for simply being poor. Now this was very topical. The time because in the 18 eighties 18 nineties It was beginning to be felt that if you were poor, if you were unemployed, it was somehow your fault.

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So in 1886 he writes the mayor of Casterbridge and on this slide that I hope you can see on your screen that's the second book along these are some of the books that are best known to us far from the matching crowd written in, 1,874 very early work.

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Thomas Hardy writes the Mayor of Casterbridge in 1886. Where he talks about criminalising people because they're out of work on their power and we might think, well hang on, that's not unlike some of what goes on today.

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Tess of the D'urbervilles. An app standing success book of the year in 1891 he's addressing things like illegitimacy.

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People living together before their marriage. He's tackling topics. The Wafe, very hard for Victorian authors to tackle and still retain a readership.

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Judith Stuer that he wrote in 1895. And Jude tackles all of the things I've mentioned and a few more.

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So by this point in time. Party is the eldest statesman of English literature. He's the voice of the coming century.

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In the 18 nineties into the 19 hundreds. So briefly, where did it begin? Well, with his mother, certainly, his father was a stonemason.

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And builder. And his parents were forced to get married when Jemima becomes pregnant. She was a maid at a local house.

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Tom Thomas Tommy as he he was always known in the family. What's that first child? They would go on chat 3 more children.

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The following year, a talk to Mary was born in 1,851 and now the son Henry was born and a couple of years after that Catherine or Kate, as she was known, was born.

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Mother was a formidable lady and I hope you can see her on screen in the slide. Jemima Hand was her maiden name.

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She was passionate about education. She was widely ready. She worked as a humble maid. I saw, but she believes strongly in education, not just for her eldest son, but for all 4 of her children.

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She also believed that none of them should marry. But that they should stay together and look after each other.

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And this is hardest birthplace, the cottage, higher Bob Hampton, about 3 miles outside.

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Dochester in Dorset and this was a family home that had actually been built by Hearty Thomas Hardy's.

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Great grandfather.

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And this is the bedroom in the house in which Thomas Hardy was born. He was a very frail child.

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They thought he was dead. But it said the baby was put on the chest of drawers thinking that he was dead while the midwife attended to his mother.

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Then they heard a cough and realized that little Tommy was actually alive. He was quite a frail child, but fiercely intelligent child, he absorbed all the stories that his mother told him and learned to read and write very quickly.

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And, his parents script and saved to pay for a good education for all 4 of their children.

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This is where he went initially to the village school at Lower Bock Hampton. This was run by Mrs. Julia Martin.

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Who was the lady of the manor, but he very quickly outbrew this school. And his mother insisted that he be sent the 3 miles to Mr. Last's Academy.

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In Dorchester so every day 10 year old Tommy walked 3 miles into Doncaster and 3 miles back again at the end of the day.

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At school, his passion for education matched his mother's. There was only enough money available to pay for his education.

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Until he was 16. But how he made the most of his time at the school. He learned Latin, he learned Greek and healer mathematics.

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And he's real passion for education was started here. Here's holiday. At about 18 on the left and Thomas Hardy aged about 25 on the right.

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At 16 he left school. He was apprenticed to an architect in Dorchester as an architectural draftsman.

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He worked hard at his profession. In fact, he would win medals. For his architectural drawings.

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And, after about 5 years working in Dorchester, what for an architect called John Hicks?

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After about 5 years, he was ambitious to move on. So he took himself to London. And this is the commemorative plaque on the outside of the building.

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It's a bank. Today where, Thomas Hardy. Actually worked.

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I'm moving to the next side of Wessex. His beloved Wessex.

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It was while working for Hicks that he starts to write stories. He was passionate about reading and passionate about writing.

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And poetry at this stage in his life is his first love. And the story, he, he begins to create.

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Center around what he knows. Stories of rural working folk. And their lives in Wessex as he would very quickly rename Dorset.

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And later when asked where he got his inspiration for the locations in his novels, he would say that his Wessex was a partly real partly dream country.

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But he's love of Dorset was constant and remained with him for the whole of his life.

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So in 1860, s London hardy encounters A busy bustling city. He called it a city of 4 million people with 8 million eyes.

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He hated it. It's noisy, it's polluted, it's dirty.

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And party can't. A bide rubbing shoulders with people in crowds. All his life he would have a phobia about being touched.

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So he walks in the road mainly to avoid them. He sees squalor, he sees that probation alongside wealth.

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And this would inspire. Some of the plots of his novels. Hardy is second by what he says in London and after 5 years he becomes quite ill.

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He's very successful in London. He goes to work for an architect, famous architect called Blumfield, Arthur Blufffield, whose office is a near Trafalgar Square.

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But in London, he hates the noise. He hates the dirt and the bustle.

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So he comes back home again to While he's in London, however. He takes advantage of everything London has to offer and his passion for learning takes him to external classes at King's College London.

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It takes him to museums to art galleries where he is absorbing as much as he can.

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Later on, Hearty would embark on a very structured plan of self-improvement rating.

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Helped by his first wife. And, yeah, London's opportunities for education. He, He loved.

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And the Push Museum was another one of his songs and I hope you're able to see the slide of part of the British Museum here and he would he would spend hours studying there.

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Coming back to Dorset, his work as an architect. Takes him next to Combo.

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Where he's employer asks him to do architectural sketches for the renovation of St.

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Juliet's Church near And it's here that he meets the rector of the parish, the clergyman of the parish sister-in-law, Emma Lavinia Gifford.

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Emma was the same age as Thomas Hardy, born the same year so they're both they're both in there like twenties and this is in 1870.

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And, he will see Emma as a young woman when Harty first knew her and over on the right hand side we have Emma in later years, 1,905.

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She died in 1912. The marriage at first was extremely happy but later it gradually, deteriorated.

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Emma Lavinia had ambitions herself to be a writer. She like Hardy was passionate about reading, she was passionate about poetry.

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And she gets up her own ambitions to further his I's to be a writer. He's already written one novel called Poor Man and A Lady but unfortunately couldn't get it published.

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Because subject matter was thought to be too contentious. So no publisher will touch it. So she helps him.

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She acts as she's secretary. She acts as his researcher and she basically puts her own writing ambitions on hold.

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But the marriage that was so happy initially would deteriorate rapidly. They really grew apart hearty success as a writer took him into a very masculine male dominated world.

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And Emma begins to feel pushed out. She begins to feel resentful. She had a strong religious faith and hardy as she brought her gradually begins to lose his religious faith and to see the flaws in religion.

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And so, their marriage deteriorated. It never broke up completely. They lived under the same roof but they virtually lived separate lives.

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And she was very much aware that Hardy had infatuations for other ladies. Now this is, this slide shows, part of the first draft.

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Of Hearties, 1891 bestseller Tess of the D'urbervilles, where he addresses so many of the contentious issues of the D'urbervilles, where he addresses so many of the contentious issues of the day.

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Poverty. And people's lives because of poverty. Hey, Trust is illegitimacy.

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Hey addresses the inequality. Of the sexes and the fact that it's expected that women will conform to certain stereotypes.

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And that women will not want to go into higher education. The role is as a support, an adjunct of the man.

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It isn't about becoming educated yourself. This is something that he would protest about very strongly.

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Tess, subject matter of, a country girl who gives birth to an illegitimate child.

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Was very contentious, very contentious. In its day but nevertheless people book the book.

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And in 1891 it was declared the book of the year. How's first success would come much earlier than this in 1874 he publishes far from the matching crowd.

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I'm with far from the matching crowd the money begins to come in. He begins to become up there with some of the heist earning novelists.

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In fact, at 1 point in his career, Hardy was the highest earning novelist in Britain.

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This is the book that caused an absolute sensation. In 1895. In the 18 nineties, has become, we could say darker, certainly test deals with some really contentious issues of the day.

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But in 1895 the publication of Judy obscure covers so much that people were concerned about in the latter part of the nineteenth century and would be concerned about going into the twentieth century.

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Hearty by now is also involved and so was Emma. His wife. In the course of women's suffrage.

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Hard to support cheap women's suffrage. He, from his letters that he wrote, people like Millicent, Garrett Fawcett, who was a formidable force.

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In the women's suffrage movement. He protests about the role that society has allocated to women.

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And if we're looking at links between Yes, and today, hardy then and our world now, well we can find so many in June.

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It's about inequality of opportunities in education. Jude is a humble stone mason, but he longs to go to university.

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All he can do is look over the wall. He can't get in. He receives a letter from the University Authority saying, no, we won't accept you as a student.

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You're a working man. Basically stick to being a working man. You're not an intellectual, you never will be.

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So just face it. He's elbowed off the pavement by millionaire sons who are undergraduates at the university for the simple reason that he's a working man in working men's clothes.

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And in Jude, Hardy protects strongly about this inequality. He says education. Opportunity should be there for everyone, not just the privileged few.

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Hearty supports in showed the non-typical the non-stereotypical family unit.

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A guy in his letters, he says, why should there only be one family unit that is the proper family unit.

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Father, mother, children. He says why are mothers of illegitimate children discriminated against? Why are their children discriminated against?

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He's tackling this and many other issues in June. And also as well as people living together without marriage, having children and they're unmarried.

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He's also tackling, how society Discriminate against anyone who is poor, who is unemployed, who is not able.

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Just support their family for whatever reason it might be. And again, if we look at this parallel between then and now.

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We can see that there is still discrimination. In the world. There is still an implication sometimes that if people are out of work it's their own fault.

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There are places in the world where women are being denied an education where women and girls are forbidden from getting an education.

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So we can see the links between hardest time and our own time and hearty campaign vociferously against injustice.

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Hardy was critical of we might think of much of the world he inhabited. Along with his love of the world his love of the natural features of the world there was a realism with Hearty that although we I'm not happy with what is happening in our world.

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So Sometimes there are forces outside our control. There are things beyond our control that we cannot change. Hearty admits this.

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He said I've got a voice. Meaning himself. I can speak out but ordinary people often feel they cannot speak out about these things.

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But Hearty says you must. It's your duty to speak out. He says even if they are forces beyond your control, you still must make your voice heard.

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I know I suppose linking that to our own times. You know, it's about making sure that we vote.

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And, that we are not frightened to speak out if we think something is wrong. Hearty said to think about something.

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And protest about something. Even if you know that you are powerless on your own change, it's no reason not to do it.

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So here's some of the things that Hardy was critical. I'm from the left hand side we have rural workers hardy as I've said protested strongly against the deskilling of rural workers.

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He was an anti mechanization at all. He accepted that in a changing world, mechanization is coming.

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Whether we like it or we don't. But he felt that more care should be taken over the huge disruption to rural people to lives.

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And in this painting, you have, husband wife and 2 children and the husband is walking the country roads because he's looking for a job.

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He's out of work. And of course, with mechanization, more people were being put out of work.

00:33:15.000 --> 00:33:24.000
Religion, Hardy lost his religious faith and we can date it from the time he went as a young man to a church service.

00:33:24.000 --> 00:33:34.000
At his local church. And the clergyman preached a sermon criticizing the working classes for daring to aspire to the professions.

00:33:34.000 --> 00:34:01.000
Now Hardy considered himself working class and he had dared to become an architect. And Hardy said, so much of religion is harsh, it's cold, it's sympathetic, it's not giving people support, it's actually pigeon holding people.

00:34:01.000 --> 00:34:22.000
Into a set. Frame. If your working class you fit in this box. If your upper class you fit in another box and hardy said that isn't right there should be equality of opportunity and people should be encouraged to better themselves.

00:34:22.000 --> 00:34:31.000
Votes for women, women suffrage. He was a great promoter of women's suffrage.

00:34:31.000 --> 00:34:55.000
Hey. He certainly wrote letters and campaigned on behalf of women and he went on record just saying that he believed that actually men need to feel no threat from women's suffrage because women given the phone would actually encourage a motivate men to speak out more.

00:34:55.000 --> 00:35:08.000
On various issues, privilege and class. Yes, Hardy. Was very critical of privilege and class.

00:35:08.000 --> 00:35:17.000
She said, why is education so elitist? Why is higher education reserved for certain sections of the community?

00:35:17.000 --> 00:35:30.000
Why not for everyone? And and learning. College. He believes that everyone should have the means to aspire to higher education.

00:35:30.000 --> 00:35:43.000
So yeah, moving on to the next slide. Some of the farm workers that Hardy would have seen in the fields around.

00:35:43.000 --> 00:35:56.000
And, he protested, as I said, strongly about their conditions of work. And the fact that nobody seemed particularly bothered that they were being put out of work.

00:35:56.000 --> 00:36:12.000
And one reviewer commented that Hardy's work perclaims the voice of the working classes speaking more clearly and distinctly than ever before.

00:36:12.000 --> 00:36:30.000
Now, Hardy in the latter part of the nineteenth century, early part of the twentieth century. Was very much, as I said, the eldest statesman, the, the voice of the new century.

00:36:30.000 --> 00:36:39.000
Hearty's work is incredibly popular, not only in Britain, but all over the world. Hence it gave him a platform.

00:36:39.000 --> 00:36:44.000
For speaking out about things he didn't agree with.

00:36:44.000 --> 00:36:55.000
After the publication of Jude, Hardy was pilloried. By some sections of the literary press and certainly some sections of the public.

00:36:55.000 --> 00:37:06.000
Because they regarded it and the subject matter and the way He dealt with this contentious issues. As a step to fall.

00:37:06.000 --> 00:37:22.000
So. Hearties reaction was to become very depressed at that point, but gradually, certainly with the dawn of the new century in 1,900.

00:37:22.000 --> 00:37:34.000
Things begin to change. There's a more liberal outlook. Coming. And, party's work is re-examined.

00:37:34.000 --> 00:37:43.000
People change their opinion. He might stop the ground that he's lost, the obscure.

00:37:43.000 --> 00:37:48.000
Hardy never believed that he shouldn't have published you. Jude is a very moral story and very sympathetic to the working classes.

00:37:48.000 --> 00:37:59.000
Yes, it's a book that is very difficult. 3 because it's quite harrowing in places if you've read it you'll know what I mean.

00:37:59.000 --> 00:38:22.000
I will say no more on that. But in of course, 1899. Up until 1902 Britain is involved in the ball war what was hardy's attitude to the ball war and the first world war where Hardy was an anti war.

00:38:22.000 --> 00:38:38.000
He certainly believed that the First World War had adjust calls. And he wasn't in opposition. To Britain declaring war at all.

00:38:38.000 --> 00:38:49.000
However, Hardy becomes increasingly disillusioned and horrified. As the First World War proceeded.

00:38:49.000 --> 00:39:01.000
And he says that The reason for this is because the war is being taken over by kings. Princes, rulers!

00:39:01.000 --> 00:39:11.000
Politicians, the top brass of the military. And they're making it about them. There he goes.

00:39:11.000 --> 00:39:19.000
They're promoting themselves, they're using it as a bit of self-promotion and Hearty says, that's not what it's about.

00:39:19.000 --> 00:39:29.000
It's about the rank and file soldiers. It's about the men in the field. Who are doing the fighting who are doing the dying.

00:39:29.000 --> 00:39:45.000
Hearty sympathy was always with the soldier and the suffering of the soldier. His war poetry. Is Absolutely on a par with any of the war poets whose names we recognize.

00:39:45.000 --> 00:40:04.000
People like Rupert Graves. Sorry, Robert Braves, Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, the names that we recognise, Thomas Hardy, needs to always appear alongside them.

00:40:04.000 --> 00:40:18.000
And in a letter to right to John Goesworthy in 1918. Hardy's phoneulated his own ideas about the future of the world.

00:40:18.000 --> 00:40:34.000
He's sickened by how little progress. Mankind has made. He's tried in his books to show mankind progressing towards changing the wrongs of the world.

00:40:34.000 --> 00:40:42.000
But he regards the Boer War and particularly the First World War. As a step backwards. He said, what happened to humankind working to improve things?

00:40:42.000 --> 00:40:58.000
When will we ever learn that war really doesn't solve any problems. Isn't it about human nature?

00:40:58.000 --> 00:41:16.000
About mankind progressing, not taking. Steps backwards. And in his letter to John Goldsworthy, he says the exchange of international thought is the only possible salvation for the world.

00:41:16.000 --> 00:41:39.000
Hardy's work was taken to the trenches by The soldiers, they loved his work. Because, in the environment they're in, they're looking for something that reminds them of home that reminds them of I rural, more gentle way of life.

00:41:39.000 --> 00:41:49.000
And they love his work and they love his poetry. And after the first world war, Party's home at Maxgate.

00:41:49.000 --> 00:42:07.000
Becomes a mecca. For the young men who were poets during the first world war. People that I've mentioned like Robert Grave, SICK FREE SOUND, they come to eulogize, not that he wants you to be eulogized.

00:42:07.000 --> 00:42:21.000
But, but certainly, they are grateful to him for producing the, the wonderful poetry that has helped them through some of their darkest days.

00:42:21.000 --> 00:42:51.000
And Hardy's poetry carries on protesting. And Christmas, 1924 on this slide very short very brief On the side you can see he writes this at Christmas, 1924 after the first world war is over but he's very much thinking of the first world war And he's also protesting against religion.

00:42:54.000 --> 00:43:04.000
How little religion has done. Where did religion stand during the 4 war and the first world war. He's asking that question.

00:43:04.000 --> 00:43:15.000
Peace upon earth was said. W sing it and pay a million priests to bring it. After 2,000 years of mass.

00:43:15.000 --> 00:43:28.000
We've got as far as poison gas. And of course we know that poison gas was used as a weapon of warfare for the first time in the First World War.

00:43:28.000 --> 00:43:49.000
So the first world war. Seconds hardy. And it takes him a long while to recover. He regards it as a complete waste of human life because the nations of the world have learned nothing from what's gone on before.

00:43:49.000 --> 00:44:01.000
This is Hearty's home at Max Gate, the one he designed himself. She signed by Hearty and built by his father and younger brother Henry.

00:44:01.000 --> 00:44:16.000
In 1912 in November of 1912 party's first marriage ended with the death. In November of that year of his wife Emma.

00:44:16.000 --> 00:44:25.000
And, Emma's death. Brings about a complete Change in outlook of hardy.

00:44:25.000 --> 00:44:38.000
Hearty. Was very depressed by the reception given to chew the obscure. And he turns away from novel writing to writing poetry.

00:44:38.000 --> 00:44:51.000
An accuracy. From 1898 when he publishes his first volume of poetry. And till his death in 1928.

00:44:51.000 --> 00:45:03.000
He produces. The most marvelous poetry. Suddenly after Emma's death, Emma's death seems to inspire him.

00:45:03.000 --> 00:45:12.000
To produce even better poetry. Because It's as though he's fallen in love. With the woman.

00:45:12.000 --> 00:45:21.000
Who was she's partner in a marriage with so much went wrong. Where he was to blame. She was to blame.

00:45:21.000 --> 00:45:29.000
They were to blame. Why didn't they sort you out when they had the chance? How could it have been changed?

00:45:29.000 --> 00:45:40.000
Could what happened have been avoided. He's asking all these questions in his poetry. And his poetry this period in his life.

00:45:40.000 --> 00:45:48.000
It's the most moving poetry of love and loss. So again, he's examining his life.

00:45:48.000 --> 00:46:00.000
Hearty marriage, a kind. In February of 1914 he married a later called Florence Dugdale shown on the slide here.

00:46:00.000 --> 00:46:23.000
She was 39 years his junior. And she had been working for him. As secretary and researcher There is quite strong evidence that they were involved in an intimate relationship before Emma's death.

00:46:23.000 --> 00:46:30.000
Hearty and Florence, again, photographed at Maxgate in the 1920.

00:46:30.000 --> 00:46:46.000
And hearty with Wessex. He's terrier. And, of course, as I've said several times before, he's in the twenties, he's the voice of the new century and, the, he's still campaigning.

00:46:46.000 --> 00:47:02.000
He's campaigning against inequality on what he perceives is wrong. With society. And how G and Florence again, only 3 years before hardy's death.

00:47:02.000 --> 00:47:13.000
And of course as an eldest statesman of English literature, today a bronze bust of him produced and you can see this.

00:47:13.000 --> 00:47:22.000
At the. Certainly the museum in Dorchester.

00:47:22.000 --> 00:47:33.000
Hardy died. On the eleventh of January, 1928. And he died of heart failure.

00:47:33.000 --> 00:47:43.000
He was 87 years of age. And, this is the final resting place of Haj's heart.

00:47:43.000 --> 00:47:53.000
He wanted his heart or he wanted his body, I should say. Buried with his first wife.

00:47:53.000 --> 00:47:56.000
But the public outcry. That he must have a funeral where he's buried in Westminster Abbey.

00:47:56.000 --> 00:48:10.000
Was so strong. That this compromise is reached and his heart It's buried. This is Thomas Hardy.

00:48:10.000 --> 00:48:24.000
And both of his wives would be buried with him. Emma who predeceased him and Florence who died in 1937.

00:48:24.000 --> 00:48:29.000
Some. 9 years after him.

00:48:29.000 --> 00:48:38.000
And you'll notice on the grave it says Thomas Hardy O. He was awarded the altar of merit in 1910.

00:48:38.000 --> 00:48:51.000
By King George the Fifth. It said he was offered a knighthood. But he refused because he's relationship was so bad with his first wife, Emma.

00:48:51.000 --> 00:49:00.000
He didn't want her being made Lady Hardy. Now, that sounds incredibly harsh, a rather cruel.

00:49:00.000 --> 00:49:03.000
But that's the story.

00:49:03.000 --> 00:49:26.000
And this is where the reminder of Harty's body was interred. He was he was cremated and his ashes in turn in poets corner and subsequently Rachel Kipling's grave would be very close to his and Thomas Hardy lies alongside Charles Dickens.

00:49:26.000 --> 00:49:36.000
Now I'm going to finish. At this point. So I'm very conscious of the time.

00:49:36.000 --> 00:49:43.000
And I'd like to finish if I may with a quote from Jude the Obscure. Hearties, 1895 novel.

00:49:43.000 --> 00:50:05.000
That caused such a sensation but mentioned so many topics that are still being discussed in our own times. And he says, as for Su and me, when we were at our best long ago, when our minds were clear.

00:50:05.000 --> 00:50:17.000
And our love of truth fearless. The time was not ripe for us. Well, can I finish by saying?

00:50:17.000 --> 00:50:40.000
So I hope the time will be ripe. For you to consider joining a WAA course. I think Simon, summed it up very well at the beginning of this lecture when he said we have a whole gamma of courses that you can join.

00:50:40.000 --> 00:50:49.000
And, we would love you to do so whether you want to join online or a face to face venue based course.

00:50:49.000 --> 00:51:01.000
Rest assured you will be made warmly welcome. So our close by saying thank you very much for joining the talk today.

00:51:01.000 --> 00:51:10.000
And I will be very happy to answer any questions that you might have. So I'm going to stop sharing now.

00:51:10.000 --> 00:51:14.000
And I'm going to come back.

00:51:14.000 --> 00:51:17.000
Thank you very much, Margaret. We're going to go straight to some questions now. We've got quite a few for you.

00:51:17.000 --> 00:51:22.000
So what we'll do is we'll try and get through as many of them as possible and I'm going to ask them kind of in the order of their popularity.

00:51:22.000 --> 00:51:32.000
I know you've all been voting for the questions. So first of all, most popular question, Margaret.

00:51:32.000 --> 00:51:41.000
Was Hardy considered to be on the autistic spectrum? Guides at his cottage in Dorset thought so.

00:51:41.000 --> 00:51:45.000
Sorry, if you could say the last bit, the owner, that went a bit blurry.

00:51:45.000 --> 00:51:57.000
Okay, guides his cottage in Dorset thought he was.

00:51:57.000 --> 00:51:58.000

00:51:58.000 --> 00:52:06.000
Yeah, sorry, I've still got a problem with my sound at this end. Yeah, I'm really, really sorry.

00:52:06.000 --> 00:52:07.000

00:52:07.000 --> 00:52:10.000
Okay, let me say again, do we think Hardy was on the autistic spectrum? The guides that his cottage in Dorset thought thought that was the case.

00:52:10.000 --> 00:52:29.000
Yeah, I think he may well have been. I think he may well have been yes. There are certain things about hardy that do seem to follow the pattern, yes, but of course we can't know that for certain.

00:52:29.000 --> 00:52:33.000
And, yeah, it's very difficult at this. Point in time to be absolutely sure on that.

00:52:33.000 --> 00:52:58.000
But I do suspect that there was. Some if it wasn't autism it maybe was something else but I do suspect I mean other people have mentioned that he had problems with his attention span.

00:52:58.000 --> 00:53:08.000
And, you know, all sorts of things. But yeah, I, think that's a very strong possibility that he was.

00:53:08.000 --> 00:53:17.000
Okay, thank you. Next, Do, do we know which of his books was his favourite?

00:53:17.000 --> 00:53:28.000
Well, I'm going to say. Tess of the Durbervilles. He never actually said that himself.

00:53:28.000 --> 00:53:46.000
But what he told us was he fell in love with Tess. As she wrote the book. He fell more and more in love with Tess and he always held a very special place in his heart and he would go back.

00:53:46.000 --> 00:53:55.000
She's talking about tests, time after. I mean, it wasn't only about the topics that test covers.

00:53:55.000 --> 00:54:07.000
It was Tess as a character because it is believed that the character of Tess was based on his maternal grandmother Betty.

00:54:07.000 --> 00:54:08.000

00:54:08.000 --> 00:54:16.000
So I'm going to say Tess. But if Thomas Harvey were here, he might be furious with me.

00:54:16.000 --> 00:54:22.000
Okay. Right. Here's another question here. Another quite a popular question.

00:54:22.000 --> 00:54:28.000
Who would you say are Hardy's literary descendants writing today?

00:54:28.000 --> 00:54:37.000
Oh, that's, that's a really hard one. Janel, I can't think the the only sounds off top my head.

00:54:37.000 --> 00:54:49.000
I can't think of one. Today because when I look at what Hardy wrote about and how the way He writes.

00:54:49.000 --> 00:54:58.000
Hey, gives us despair 1 min and then he gives us joy in the next sentence and he uplifts us.

00:54:58.000 --> 00:55:10.000
He is, I can't think. Of a writer that has hardy's ease. I'm going to use the word ease, it's probably inadequate.

00:55:10.000 --> 00:55:15.000
But to describe it, but it just seems to and I honestly can't think of anyone that I've read.

00:55:15.000 --> 00:55:30.000
From modern time, for more modern times from our own times. That. Equal holiday.

00:55:30.000 --> 00:55:35.000
There are, if you're looking at, novelist who wrote at about the same time as Hardy.

00:55:35.000 --> 00:55:49.000
One that springs to my mind that has a similar gift. But not so pronounced was Flora Thompson.

00:55:49.000 --> 00:55:54.000
Of Lark Rice to Kangalford F.

00:55:54.000 --> 00:55:59.000
Mottentai? No, I don't think I can think of anyone.

00:55:59.000 --> 00:56:12.000
Okay. Right, here's another popular question amongst our participants today. Did Heardi actually become explicitly politically active?

00:56:12.000 --> 00:56:24.000
Not that we know of. He never, he was a J. He was certainly a JP in the area, but as a man of substance.

00:56:24.000 --> 00:56:37.000
And most people of substance were asked to become JPs. No, he never showed any inclination.

00:56:37.000 --> 00:56:50.000
Take up politics directly to become directly involved. Certainly he wrote letters to politicians. And both in his books.

00:56:50.000 --> 00:56:58.000
And in the letters he wrote to friends. To, people who just wrote fan letters to him.

00:56:58.000 --> 00:57:15.000
To, family members to fellow authors. Fellow poets. He, Ups, absolutely stresses the causes that he believes in and what he thinks is wrong.

00:57:15.000 --> 00:57:20.000
With the society that we live in at the moment and how mankind really is making a mess of things.

00:57:20.000 --> 00:57:33.000
He's very honest, he's very frank. But he shows no inclination to become directly politically involved.

00:57:33.000 --> 00:57:42.000
Okay. Right, here's a question for you here. Obviously you talked about, and Hardy being a big supporter of women's suffrage, etc.

00:57:42.000 --> 00:57:51.000
Etc. This is a question. Why did, why did Hardy in turn his second wife upstairs in his home at Max Gate.

00:57:51.000 --> 00:57:56.000
Doesn't seem to be in keeping with his support for women's rights.

00:57:56.000 --> 00:58:05.000
No, it was Emma, his first wife. Now, I'm, in hardest defense.

00:58:05.000 --> 00:58:13.000
Hearty aits in his poetry that they were both wrong. She was wrong, he was wrong, how?

00:58:13.000 --> 00:58:29.000
But he blinds himself. But he's very honest in his examination of what went wrong. Now when Mac Skype was built and the marriage was rocky by 1885.

00:58:29.000 --> 00:58:42.000
But the marriage deteriorated over a number of years. One of the reasons is probably when Florence Dugdale becomes secretary researcher.

00:58:42.000 --> 00:58:50.000
The other reason exteriorated was the publication of Jude the obscure. Emma was religious.

00:58:50.000 --> 00:59:10.000
She believed strongly in religion. She regarded Jude as a personal attack. On her. Now what she then did when Harty had an extension built to Max She asked Hardy and this came from Emma herself.

00:59:10.000 --> 00:59:24.000
Would he? Create 2 roads in the attic. Where she would withdraw to in practice. She moved into these 2 rooms.

00:59:24.000 --> 00:59:28.000
Oh, she didn't tell her, Joe.

00:59:28.000 --> 00:59:41.000
She asked her to do that. She wanted to distance herself. From his writing. She was upset by 2 obscure.

00:59:41.000 --> 00:59:50.000
She was upset at the criticism of religion. She recalled it as a personal. Attack on her.

00:59:50.000 --> 01:00:01.000
And then the advent of Florence Stockdale, I think, finished the job. And she withdraws from him and effectively they start to lead increasingly separate lives.

01:00:01.000 --> 01:00:13.000
But the decision to withdraw into the 2 attic rooms was Emma's. It wasn't hardies.

01:00:13.000 --> 01:00:25.000
Right, there we have it then. Okay, now another question. This is an interesting one. And are there parallels between dickens and hardy?

01:00:25.000 --> 01:00:36.000
I, I think. I think there are, yes. I mean Dickens. Addresses boldly.

01:00:36.000 --> 01:00:48.000
Some of the wrongs of society and so did Harding. So yes, I think so, but 2 very different styles of writing.

01:00:48.000 --> 01:00:58.000
Hearty-tout-story Dickens Waves. Some very complex plots within plots.

01:00:58.000 --> 01:01:06.000
Hardy sets out to tell the story, I think. But there are similarities.

01:01:06.000 --> 01:01:22.000
Oh, definitely. They're both concerned about what they perceive are the wrongs of society and also the fact that mankind is not progressing in kindness, in generosity.

01:01:22.000 --> 01:01:32.000
In caring for their fellow human beings. And I think Dickens makes this point very, in much of his writing.

01:01:32.000 --> 01:01:42.000
You know, where is the progress? That should be going on and hardy takes up the torch and says where is the progress?

01:01:42.000 --> 01:01:49.000
Why are we going backward instead of forwards? So yeah, I think there are similarities there.

01:01:49.000 --> 01:01:59.000
Okay, right another question. Did Hardy know George Elliott? Do we know if he liked her work and or was influenced by it?

01:01:59.000 --> 01:02:10.000
I, as far as I know, he never met Julia. I mean, again, the mistress of the realist novel, Definitely.

01:02:10.000 --> 01:02:23.000
As far as I know, they never met. But I'm going to take a gamble here and say that I would be very surprised if he hadn't read.

01:02:23.000 --> 01:02:32.000
At least some of her work. Middle March, I will think he had read.

01:02:32.000 --> 01:02:33.000

01:02:33.000 --> 01:02:40.000
But I can't put my hands on my heart and say I know that. Because he told us so.

01:02:40.000 --> 01:02:52.000
Okay. Question here. Is there any possibility that Jemima's husband was not Hardy's father?

01:02:52.000 --> 01:02:53.000

01:02:53.000 --> 01:03:03.000
Well, there is a possibility. Absolutely. I mean, Bye, they were married in December.

01:03:03.000 --> 01:03:17.000
1839. She married Thomas Hardy Senior because his father was also called Thomas. And young Tommy makes his appearance on the second of June, 1,840.

01:03:17.000 --> 01:03:37.000
They had been keeping company to use a nineteenth century term with each other for quite a long while because the story behind their meeting is that he came Thomas Senior with his uncle and his father to play the violin.

01:03:37.000 --> 01:03:51.000
He loved music, he could play the violin, he a love that he handed down to Thomas Hardy because Thomas Hardy also learned how to play the violin and love music like his father.

01:03:51.000 --> 01:04:04.000
And they Thomas Senior, his father. And his uncle, come along to some micro church at to play the fiddle.

01:04:04.000 --> 01:04:14.000
For the church service because no organ in the church it was very common in the nineteenth century for a church not to have an organ.

01:04:14.000 --> 01:04:28.000
So they relied on travelling musicians. And, apparently she, made an absolute Beeline for the young.

01:04:28.000 --> 01:04:32.000
We're musician Thomas Hardy.

01:04:32.000 --> 01:04:41.000
So yeah, it's possible. It is possible, of course. We will never know.

01:04:41.000 --> 01:04:55.000
But, it seems unlikely. Because You know, they were courting each other. More or less steadily.

01:04:55.000 --> 01:05:03.000
And then she announced she's pregnant and as far as we know, there were no other.

01:05:03.000 --> 01:05:15.000
My friends. In in the offing but of course we can't know that for certain but certainly Thomas Senior did the decent thing.

01:05:15.000 --> 01:05:20.000
And when she announced she was pregnant, he married her.

01:05:20.000 --> 01:05:26.000
Okay, right. And I'm just conscious of time a little bit, folks. So I think we're going to have another couple of questions and then we'll need to start wrapping up.

01:05:26.000 --> 01:05:36.000
And so here's a question here. We're hardy's books thought to be shocking by Victorian readers.

01:05:36.000 --> 01:05:50.000
Bye, absolutely, I think less the early books like, a pair of blue eyes, which is an early book that he published.

01:05:50.000 --> 01:06:00.000
And, certainly far from the magic crowd, it's one of his early books, published, 1,874.

01:06:00.000 --> 01:06:16.000
That caused some comment. Because subject matter, you know, this very dashing army sergeant who's conducting 2 simultaneous love of their and makes the servant girl pregnant.

01:06:16.000 --> 01:06:29.000
But he's not more and more contentious. And particularly from the time of.

01:06:29.000 --> 01:06:38.000
Tess, 1891. Definitely. And Mayor of Casterbridge, 1886.

01:06:38.000 --> 01:06:46.000
Yeah, people were saying that he's beginning to look. At the deeper, darker.

01:06:46.000 --> 01:07:00.000
Side of life and human nature. About the sale. Of a man of his wife. You know, he's selling his wife to another man.

01:07:00.000 --> 01:07:08.000
So yeah, some contentious issues there, but. I think the 2 that were really thought to be.

01:07:08.000 --> 01:07:18.000
Darker and more controversial, a test in 1891 and of course Jude in 1,895.

01:07:18.000 --> 01:07:30.000
Okay, thank you. Now we'll have one more question and it's kind of wrapping up a kind of couple of questions that people have asked which is kind of really Do we know for the impact?

01:07:30.000 --> 01:07:34.000
Wars of him speaking out on the various issues that he felt strongly about. Was there any impact on the people in power?

01:07:34.000 --> 01:07:43.000
Was there any impact on legislation? And what do we know?

01:07:43.000 --> 01:07:54.000
I think it's very difficult if not impossible. To attribute any direct impact on legislation.

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So I deal with that part first. Certainly know of no evidence that tells me. The women. Oh, some women were given the vote in 1918 because of Thomas Hardy.

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And that the Frankice was widened. To other women in 1928 because of Thomas Hardy.

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I can't claim that and I think if Thomas Hardy were here, he won't claim that either.

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It's like dripping on a stone, isn't it? He's keeping up! The pressure.

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Hey, and in the same way in the First World War Hey makes his fuse about how much the politicians And, the military.

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The top ranks in the military are taking the credit for themselves. And he says this is wrong, you know, it's not you doing the fighting and the dying, it's young men.

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And he said the same in the ball war. He wrote a wonderful poem called Drama Hodge.

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That talks about this young country boy who dies in South Africa. I'm in the Army in the Ball War campaign.

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So I think it's virtually impossible to say that legislation change because of Thomas Hardy but I feel sure that and I'm sure Hardy would agree with me.

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But it's like One voice. Crying out how much more powerful are you if you're one of many crying out And one thing that Hearty always said was Even if you are unable to directly influence what is going on because the forces outside your control that does not mean you should not be speaking up.

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About it. And he believed that with whatever. Whatever levels of society you came from, it was your duty to speak up because he said only by doing that will change come.

01:10:20.000 --> 01:10:25.000
Thank you, Margaret. Thank you so much for that. Hardy was clearly a forward thinker of his time and there is so much that he talked about then.

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That is still so relevant today. So thank you very much for that, Margaret.

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Thank you everyone. Thank you very much. I'm passionate about Thomas Hardy and I hope I've made a few converts if you weren't before.

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