Thomas Hardy: Behind the Mask

Thomas Hardy: Behind the Mask

Andrew Norman

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 075245630X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The first biography to explain the anguish of his personal life and how it influenced such masterpieces as Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d'Urbervilles
 
Piercing the veil of secrecy which Thomas Hardy deliberately drew over his life, this book seeks to determine why he was filled with anguish, and to discover how this led to the creation of some of the finest novels and poems in the English language. Shy to a fault, Hardy surrounded his house with a dense curtain of trees, shunned publicity and investigative reporters, and when visitors arrived unexpectedly he slipped quietly out of the back door in order to avoid them. Furthermore, following the death of his first wife Emma, he burned, page by page, a book-length manuscript of hers entitled What I think of my husband, together with letters, notebooks, and diaries—both his and hers. This behavior begs the question: did he have something to hide, and if so, did this "something" relate to his relationship with Emma? This biography puts forward evidence that she may have suffered from schizophrenia, and identifies an "other man" with whom she was in love.

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After his death in 1822, the Revd Floyer was succeeded by the Revd Edward Murray, who was himself an ‘ardent musician’ and violin player. Murray chose to live at Stinsford House instead of at the rectory, and here, Thomas Hardy I and his sons, Thomas II and James, together with their brother-in-law James Dart, practised their music with Murray on two or three occasions per week. Practice sessions were also held at the Hardys’ house. As mentioned, in late 1836, fourteen years after the arrival of

and birds. Instead of looking at any of the animals, Emma ‘spent the whole time watching the flies on the window panes’ and expressing ‘enthusiastic delight at the sweet way in which they washed their little faces and stroked their pretty wings’. When Christine was aged 16, Emma invited her to accompany her by train on a visit to Parkstone, to see a friend who had ‘an aviary of foreign birds’ in her garden. They arrived at the friend’s house and viewed the birds together. Then Emma, ignoring

garden could be enlarged. ‘Nothing has made me feel more sad about the war than the sight of these amiable young Germans, in such a position through the machinations of some vile war-gang or other,’said Hardy.23 In March Hardy could not contain his indignation at the ‘Good-God’ theory, which ‘after some thousands of years of trial, [had] produced the present infamous and disgraceful state of Europe … that most Christian Continent!’ As for the ‘fifty meanings [which] attach to the word “God”,’ he

Kirland House, Bodmin. This is because Emma’s friend, Captain Charles Eldon Serjeant of St Benet’s Abbey, Lanivet, near Bodmin, and the Revd Henry M. A. Serjeant were first cousins.)10 It may, therefore, be assumed that the Serjeants’ home – the seventeenth-century rectory at St Clether – was the place at which Emma asked Hardy to stop at sunset on that ‘May eve’; this being situated, as already mentioned, a mere 7 miles from St Juliot, and well within range for Emma’s pony and trap. It may also

delusion in regard to William Serjeant remains fixed in her mind – as delusions do – this explains why, all through her married life, she refuses to make love to her husband, or indeed to show him any demonstrable affection. It also explains why the couple’s relationship was doomed, from the very beginning, to failure. 15 Florence Emily Hardy Florence Emily Hardy was, in many ways, the complete antithesis of Emma, and in consequence, the changes which she brought about to Hardy’s life were

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