On this day, Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd is published. In the novel, farm owner Bathsheba Everdene is courted by three suitors, each showing a different face of love and human nature. Although the book ends happily, it contains many of the tragic elements, grim view of human nature, and pessimistic outlook that characterize Hardy’s later masterworks, including Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895).
Hardy was born in Dorchester and was apprenticed to an architect when he was 15. After six years, he went to London to continue his training and began restoring churches. He also started writing poetry and fiction. In 1868, two publishers rejected his first novel. In 1870, he left London and went to restore a church in Cornwall, where he met his wife. The following year, his novel Desperate Remedies was published, followed by Under the Greenwood Tree in 1872, which was a success. Hardy devoted himself to novels for the next 20 years or so, publishing Return of the Native in 1878 and The Mayor of Casterbridge in 1886. However, Jude the Obscure was received with so much hostility that Hardy gave up the novel form altogether and turned to poetry. He wrote some 900 poems in a wide variety of styles, including a dramatic epic poem, The Dynasts (1910). He published Wessex Poems in 1898, taking the title from the fictional region of England where he set his novels, and Poems of the Past and Present in 1901. Hardy died in Dorchester in 1928.