Thomas Hardy is best known for his 'Wessex Novels', and his home country of Dorset is known to literary tourists as 'Hardy Country'. Yet Hardy's own relationship with his background was a complex one. Education separated him from his forebears, and this chronicler of disappearing rural life in fact spent half his time in London, mixing in the literary world and high society. He was a highly 'modern' writer, his best-selling novels dealing with issues arising out of the changes in society wrought by 19th century industrialization, and his frank description of sexual matters caused endless wrangling with bowdlerizing editors and publishers.
This new biography reveals the conflicts in both Hardy's professional and personal life and describes a man intimately and and dynamically engaged with the world of politics, ideas and culture as well as the world of rural 'Wessex'; a novelist and poet who fused a powerfully localized imagination with a cosmopolitan intellect.