Thomas Hardy was born on June 2, 1840, in Higher Bockhampton, England. The eldest child of Thomas and Jemima, Hardy studied Latin, French, and architecture in school. He also became an avid reader. Upon graduation, Hardy traveled to London to work as an architect's assistant under the guidance of Arthur Bloomfield. He also began writing poetry. How I Built Myself a House, Hardy's first professional article, was published in 1865. Two years later, while still working in the architecture field, Hardy wrote the unpublished novel The Poor Man and the Lady. During the next five years, Hardy penned Desperate Remedies, Under the Greenwood Tree, and A Pair of Blue Eyes. In 1873, Hardy decided it was time to relinquish his architecture career and concentrate on writing full-time. In September 1874, his first book as a full-time author, Far from the Madding Crowd, appeared serially. After publishing more than two dozen novels, one of the last being Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Hardy returned to writing poetry--his first love. Hardy's volumes of poetry include Poems of the Past and Present, The Dynasts: Part One, Two, and Three, Time's Laughingstocks, and The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall. From 1833 until his death, Hardy lived in Dorchester, England. His house, Max Gate, was designed by Hardy, who also supervised its construction. Hardy died on January 11, 1928. His ashes are buried in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey.
Patricia Ingham is Fellow and Senior Tutor in English at St. Anne's College, Oxford, and Times Lecturer in English Language.