Born: 2 June 1840
Died: 11 January 1928
Birthplace: Upper Bockhampton, England
Best known as: The author of Tess of the d'Urbervilles
English writer Thomas Hardy is best known for his novels Far From the Madding Crowd (1874), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1896). He spent most of his life in rural Dorset, which provided a background for his fiction. Trained as an architect, he spent five years in London at that profession before finding success as a novelist in the 1870s. He published several popular novels over the next 20 years, but harsh criticism of Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure -- they were called vulgar and pessimistic (but they sold well) -- turned him from writing novels to writing poetry. His grief after his wife's death in 1912 led to the highly-praised Poems of 1912-13, even though his marriage had been an unhappy one. He remarried in 1914, and his wife, Florence Dugdale, is credited with writing his biography, although it's believed he dictated it to her before he died. His heart was interred at Dorset's Stinson Church, but his remains (he was cremated) were interred in the Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey.
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