Happy birthday, Thomas Hardy – 17 quotes

Happy birthday, Thomas Hardy! Today is the birthday of Thomas Hardy (b.2 June 1840 – d.11 January 1928). Hardy was a celebrated and influential English novelist and poet. And is a favourite of mine. Author of such works as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). And some fine poetry. Most … Continue reading Happy birthday, Thomas Hardy – 17 quotes

ART: Famous writers on cigarette cards

Famous writers on cigarette cards Shown above are some portraits of famous writers on cigarette cards. Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, G.K. Chesteron, Rudyard Kipling, Michael Arlen, Hilaire Belloc, Phyllis Bentley, Marjorie Bowen, John Buchan and (again) G.K. Chesterton. There was a time when cigarette cards (trade cards) were issued by tobacco manufacturers to stiffen cigarette packaging and advertise cigarette brands. They often had transport, animals … Continue reading ART: Famous writers on cigarette cards

Illustrations from early additions of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Alec and Tess plus Angel and Tess

The 11 worst couples in literature

No.2. Angel & Tess and Alec & Tess from Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy) We continue our worst couples run down with Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman. It is a remarkable novel, full of interesting things and wonderful writing. And no less than two rotten relationships. Spoiler alert! Angel and Tess: This relationship had a lot of promise, the couple are in … Continue reading The 11 worst couples in literature

Three images - two photographs of real life people with a claim to have had Tess of the d'Urbervilles based on them. Also a photograph of actress Justine Waddell from a TV adaptation of the book

Will the real Tess d’Urberville please stand up

I enjoyed the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time this week – a discussion of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. A point made was that Hardy is said to have claimed that Tess’s appearance was based on Lady Agatha Thornycroft (nee Cox) – wife of the famous Victorian sculptor, Sir Hamo Thornycroft. However, there is a rival claimant. Augusta Bugler, a local milkmaid. Supposedly Hardy … Continue reading Will the real Tess d’Urberville please stand up

The 11 worst couples in literature


No. 7.  Arabella Donn and Jude Fawley from Jude the Obscure

Spoiler alert!

Wonderful writing, but such a sad tale. Jude was the first adult book I ever read. Bromley Public Library. A strange choice really, especially given the ending! Even so, I could tell there was something magical about it. “But his dreams were as gigantic as his surroundings were small.” Poor Jude. Life just somehow got in the way.

In his late teens Jude meets and is seduced by Arabella. Jude’s first encounter with Arabella is when she interrupts his scholarly dreaming by throwing a pig’s penis at him. To some readers she is Trouble-With-a-Capital-T, to others she is a sympathetic character – good humoured, practical, emotionally intelligent. Arabella informs Jude that she is pregnant and the gentle Jude gives up on his dreams of a scholar’s life at Christminster (Oxford?) to marry her. When she then reveals that she was ‘mistaken’ about her pregnancy, Jude feels tricked and trapped. It is not a great beginning to marital bliss. Before long Arabella leaves for Australia where she remarries bigamously.

Continue reading “The 11 worst couples in literature”