Thomas Hardy was born in Bockhampton, a small hamlet just outside Dorchester. A quiet and intelligent child who preferred his own company to that of others, he grew up with a great love of the local countryside.
He trained as an architect, but his first love was writing, and encouraged by his first wife, Emma, he went on to write some of the best known novels in English literature. Not only have these been translated into over 50 languages, but many have also been made into films.
Although Hardy and Emma moved house many times, it was to Dorchester that they returned in 1885 to a house at Max Gate, designed by Hardy and built by his brother. It was here that he wrote some of his best loved stories.
Following the public outcry and hostility which greeted the publication of “Jude the Obscure”, Hardy decided to give up writing novels and concentrate on writing poetry. During his lifetime he was to write over 800 poems.
Throughout his life, Hardy kept a notebook in which he recorded anything which he could use in a novel. His own observations, snatches of conversation, characters , superstitions and local traditions were all written down; activities which did not always endear him to the local population, who surmised, often correctly that they would be depicted in one of his stories.
Virtually all his stories were set in Dorset, an area he knew so well and which has since become known as ”Hardy Country”. Many people from all over the world come to Dorset each year and follow the various trails to visit the places depicted in his novels.