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Thomas Hardy’s Wessex

Thomas Hardy | Poetry Out Loud

Thomas Hardy, born in Dorset, England in 1840, was a novelist. He is best known for his work set in the semi-fictionalized county of Wessex including, Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. He was also an accomplished poet.

Wessex is the ancient name for the south-west part of England, the stronghold of the old kings of Anglo-Saxon England. The modern name for this county is Dorset; a county of outstanding natural beauty, with rolling hills, craggy coastlines and soft sandy beaches. It owes much of its charm to its numerous picturesque villages. Cerne Abbas, nestled in the valley of the River Cerne, is a quintessential English village with a ruined abbey and of course the famous Cerne Abbas Giant carved into the chalk hillside above the village, the largest hillside figure in Britain, which stands 180-foot high.

This documentary takes the viewer to the birth place of Thomas Hardy and the home that he built for his first wife, Emma Gifford. Hardy is known for his richly characterized, controversial, novels “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” and “Far From The Madding Crowd“. After “Jude The Obscure” he never wrote another novel and devoted the rest of his life to poetry. This documentary is set against the magnificent backdrop of the region where he lived while extracts of Hardy’s bleak, introspective but moving poetry can be heard, some of which was about his failed marriage with Emma Gifford and his remorseful feelings after her death. Even following his marriage to his second wife, Florence Dugdale, he remained preoccupied with his first wife’s death and tried to overcome his remorse by continuing to write poetry about her.

Download 22 minutes ‘Thomas Hardy’s Wessex’

“Then who is digging on my grave,
My nearest dearest kin?”
— “Ah, no: they sit and think, ‘What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
Her spirit from Death’s gin.'”      Thomas Hardy

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Thomas Hardy birthplace – Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England
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Thomas Hardy grave – St. Michael’s churchyard, Stinsford, Dorset
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Thomas Hardy statue – Dorchester, England