Thomas Hardy was born at Upper Bockhampton near Dorchester in Dorset. His father was a stonemason. His mother was ambitious and well-read and supplemented his formal education. Hardy trained as an architect in Dorchester before moving to London to take up employment. He won prizes from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Architectural Association.
His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, was finished in 1867 but failed to find a publisher. Desperate Remedies (1871) and Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) were published anonymously. In 1873, A Pair of Blue Eyes was published under his own name. The story draws on Hardy's courtship of Emma Gifford whom he married in 1874. His next novel, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) was successful enough for Hardy to be able to give up his architectural work and take up a full-time literary career.
Over the next 25 years, Hardy produced 10 more novels. The Hardys moved from London to Yeovil, and then to Sturminster Newton, where he wrote The Return of the Native (1878). In 1885, they returned to Dorchester, moving into Max Gate, a house which Hardy had designed himself.
In 1898, Hardy published his first volume of poetry, Wessex Poems, a collection of poems written over the previous 30 years. Hardy continued to publish collections until his death in 1928.
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