Thomas Hardy’s Poetry

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Thomas Hardy (1840 -1928) and his commitment to poetry, which he prized far above his novels. In the 1890s, once he had earned enough from his fiction, Hardy stopped writing novels altogether and returned to the poetry he had largely put aside since his twenties. He hoped that he might be ranked one day alongside Shelley and Byron, worthy of inclusion in a collection such as Palgrave’s Golden Treasury which had inspired him. Hardy kept writing poems for the rest of his life, in different styles and metres, and he explored genres from nature, to war, to epic. Among his best known are what he called his Poems of 1912 to 13, responding to his grief at the death of his first wife, Emma (1840 -1912), who he credited as the one who had made it possible for him to leave his work as an architect’s clerk and to write the novels that made him famous.

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  • Mark Ford 4 episodes
    Poet, and Professor of English and American Literature, University College London.
  • Jane Thomas 4 episodes
    Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Hull and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds
  • Tim Armstrong No other episodes
    Professor of Modern English and American Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London

Reading list

  • Haunted Hardy: Poetry, History, Memory
    Tim Armstrong (Palgrave Macmillan, 2000) Google Books →
  • The Poetry of Thomas Hardy: A Handbook and Commentary
    J.O. Baily (University of North Carolina Press, 2017)
  • An Essay on Hardy
    John Bayley (Cambridge University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • Agenda: Thomas Hardy Special Issue
    Donald Davie (ed) (Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972) Google Books →
  • Thomas Hardy: Half a Londoner
    Mark Ford (Harvard University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • Selected Poems
    Thomas Hardy (ed. Tim Armstrong) (Longman, 2009) Google Books →
  • The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy
    Thomas Hardy (ed. James Gibson) (Macmillan, 1976) Google Books →
  • Thomas Hardy: Poems Selected by Tom Paulin
    Thomas Hardy (ed. Thom Gunn) (Faber & Faber, 2005) Google Books →
  • The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy
    Samuel Hynes (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 1982-1995) Google Books →
  • Elegy
    David Kennedy (Routledge, 2007) Google Books →
  • Second Sight: Visionary Imagination in Late Victorian Literature
    Catherine Maxwell (Manchester University Press, 2008)
  • Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisited
    Michael Millgate (Oxford University Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • Thomas Hardy: The Poetry of Perception
    Tom Paulin (Palgrave Macmillan, 1986) Google Books →
  • A Commentary on the Poems of Thomas Hardy
    F.B. Pinion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) Google Books →
  • Poetry of Mourning; The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney
    Jahan Ramazani (University of Chicago Press, 1994) Google Books →
  • The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats
    Peter M. Sacks (The Johns Hopkins University, 1985) Google Books →
  • Phantoms of his Own Figuring: the Movement Toward Recovery in Hardy's "Poems of 1912-13"
    Melanie Sexton (Victorian Poetry, 29 (3), 1991)
  • Hardy's Poetry 1860-1928
    Dennis Taylor (Macmillan, 1989) Google Books →
  • Hardy's Metres and Victorian Prosody
    Dennis Taylor (Clarendon Press, 1988) Google Books →
  • Thomas Hardy and Desire: Conceptions of the Self
    Jane Thomas (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) Google Books →
  • Thomas Hardy: The Time Torn Man
    Claire Tomalin (Viking, 2006) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 821.8 (English poetry of the Victorian period, 1837-1900)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In the 1890s, Thomas Hardy stopped writing novels and returned to his first love, poetry, and he stayed writing poems for 38 years, the rest of his life.