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University of Texas at Austin

Thomas Hardy:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Hardy, Thomas, 1840-1928
Title: Thomas Hardy Collection
Dates: 1867-1937
Extent: 2 boxes, 1 galley folder (gf), 3 oversize folders (osf) (.84 linear feet)
Abstract: The Thomas Hardy Collection contains manuscript works and correspondence by Hardy as well as Hardy-related materials created by others, ranging in date from 1867 to 1937.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-01831
Language: English
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchases, 1961-1973 (R850, R1452, R4228, R5374)
Processed by: Michael Ramsey, 2010

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Thomas Hardy was born on 2 June 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England to stonemason Thomas Hardy and his wife Jemima. He was taught at home by his mother and at the local school in Bockhampton until he was sent to school at Dorchester in 1850, where he spent six years learning Latin and French among other subjects. Unable to pursue a scholarly or clerical career, from 1856 to 1862 he was apprenticed to a local architect who specialized in church restoration.
Hardy left for London in 1862 and spent five years working as an assistant to architect Arthur Blomfield. While in London Hardy began writing poetry, and his satirical sketch "How I Built Myself a House" won a prize and was published in 1865. His first attempt at a novel was not published, although the publisher Macmillan encouraged him to keep writing.
Hardy returned to Bockhampton in 1867 and resumed architectural work. In 1870, while restoring a church in St. Juliot, he met Emma Lavinia Gifford, the rector's sister-in-law, whom he married in 1874. During this period, his first novel Desperate Remedies (1871) was published anonymously, followed by Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873), and his successes Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) and The Return of the Native (1878).
Hardy and Emma settled in Dorchester in 1885 at Max Gate, a large villa that Hardy designed and in which he lived for the rest of his life. His literary popularity continued with The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), but his final two novels, Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895), evoked controversy. Disturbed by the public uproar, Hardy returned to writing poetry, collecting his earlier poems in Wessex Poems (1898) and publishing an epic drama in blank verse, The Dynasts, in three parts (1904-1908). Emma Hardy died suddenly in 1912 and prompted the poems that appeared in Poems 1912-13 (1913). In 1914, Hardy married his secretary, Florence Emily Dugdale.
During his long life, Hardy wrote 14 novels, more than 40 short stories, over 900 poems, two dramas, and also worked on his autobiography from 1920-1927. He became ill with pleurisy in 1927 and died at Max Gate at the age of 87 on 11 January 1928. A compromise arrangement between the family and Hardy's literary executor resulted in Hardy's remains being buried in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey in London, except for his heart, which was buried alongside his first wife Emma in Dorchester.


Diniejko, Andrzej. "Thomas Hardy. A Biographical Sketch." The Victorian Web, (accessed 22 October 2010).
"Thomas Hardy." Wikipedia, (accessed 22 October 2010).

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Hardy Collection contains manuscript works and correspondence by Hardy as well as Hardy-related materials created by others, ranging in date from 1867 to 1937. The Collection is arranged in three series: I. Works by Thomas Hardy, 1867-1922, undated; II. Correspondence by or to Thomas Hardy, 1880-1928; and III. Works and Correspondence re Thomas Hardy, 1890-1937. This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been recataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.
The Works series contains manuscripts mainly of poetry by Hardy, but also includes some of his stories, an article on Stonehenge, a paper on church restoration, a dramatic version of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, a play synopsis for Jude the Obscure, an epilogue to The Dynasts, and a few other pieces. In addition to literary works, there are also 20 architectural drawings by Hardy for the restoration of St. Juliot's Church, Cornwall, dating from 1867-1870. The titles of all works appear in the Index of Works in this finding aid. A few manuscripts were originally accompanied by letters and these remain in place.
Correspondence present in Series II. consists mainly of letters written by Hardy to multiple recipients. The largest groups of these letters were written to banker, politician, and author Sir Edward Robert Pearce Edgcumbe; playwright St. John Greer Ervine; publisher and author Sir Newman Flower; jurist and historian Frederic Harrison; and poet Sir Henry John Newbolt. A small number of letters written to Hardy are also present. All correspondent names are included in the Index of Correspondents included in this finding aid.
The final series is made up largely of correspondence relating to Thomas Hardy and includes a few letters either written by or received by his wives Emma or Florence. Several of the letters were written to Howard Bliss. All of the correspondent names in this series are likewise included in the Index of Correspondents. Two drawings by Sir William Nicholson for a poster for a production of The Dynasts are also present in this series.

Related Material

Manuscript items by Thomas Hardy are included in numerous other manuscript collections at the Ransom Center: Sir Walter Besant, Edmund Blunden, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, Rupert Croft-Cooke, St. John Greer Ervine, Eugene Field, Edward Garnett, Richard Garnett, J. L. Garvin, Florence Emily Hardy, Harpers, Richard Le Gallienne, Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes, John Masefield, Edgar Lee Masters, Ottoline Morrell, Claude Houghton Oldfield, Leonidas Warren Payne, PEN, J. B. Priestley, Rolfe Arnold Scott-James, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Symons, Times (London), George Macaulay Trevelyan, Barrett Wilson, T. J. Wise, and Robert Lee Wolff. In addition to first editions of most of Hardy's books, the Center's Library also holds a number of volumes from Hardy's own library. Photographs of Hardy are included in the Literary File in the Photography Collection and a number of drawings and portrait busts of Hardy by artists such as George Barker, Max Beerbohm, Augustus John, Charles Ricketts, and Alfred Wolmark are present in the Art Collection. The Personal Effects Collection includes Emma Hardy's calling card and John Cowper Powys' framed reproduction of a drawing of Thomas Hardy by William Strange. The Vertical File Collection includes printed ephemera concerning Hardy in the files for Edmund Blunden, St. John Greer Ervine, Thomas Hardy, and John Masefield.
Among the many repositories holding additional Hardy manuscripts are: Aberdeen University Library; Birmingham City Museum; Bodleian Library, Oxford University; British Library; Colby College; Dorset County Museum; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Houghton Library at Harvard University; Henry E. Huntington Library; Library of Congress; Magdalene College, Cambridge; Manchester Central Library; Pierpont Morgan Library; National Library of Scotland; New York Public Library; New York University; Queen's College, Oxford University; John Rylands Library, Manchester; State University of New York, Buffalo; University College, Dublin; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Leeds; and Yale University.

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