Thomas Hardy: a Life in Poetry and Letters

Ref: C2347154

Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) is chiefly remembered for his great and enduring novels depicting with stark realism the social contradictions and injustices of mid-late Victorian England, yet the content of those novels often offended many a sensibility and earned him much criticism—so much so that, following the publication of Jude the Obscure in 1895, Hardy did not write another novel for the remaining 33 years of his life. While we may feel this to have been a pity, it actually freed Hardy up to pursue what he considered to be his real vocation: the writing of poetry. It was as poet and not as a novelist that Hardy wished to be chiefly remembered, and with some justification. Hardy's poetic output was prolific, so we will be exploring some of the most important themes and issues in his poetry (such as his acute observation of and deep affection for the natural world around him), while also drawing upon his personal letters in order to illustrate how such issues mattered to him.

Course aim

This course will provide an introduction to the poetry of Thomas Hardy by exploring several of the major themes in his work. An examination of Hardy's poems—even more than the novels—will also lead to a fuller understanding of the man himself.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Discuss a range of Thomas Hardy's poems and give examples of how he regularly used the medium of poetry to express both his personal emotions and his views on a wide range of subjects.
  • Give an overview of Hardy's life and the many political, social and cultural changes he witnessed from the middle of the nineteenth century to the closing years of the 1920s.
  • Describe and give at least 2 examples of some of Hardy's more private experiences and views as expressed in his letters to friends.
  • Examine Hardy's poetry and demonstrate an enhanced critical awareness to give opinions of the poems under discussion.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

This is a live course delivered at a WEA teaching location. If you have access to a computer/smart phone and an email address, these would still be useful, as our Student Learning Record and feedback is generated and stored on our online learning platform. If not, paper copies will be available.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Thomas Hardy: a Life in Poetry and Letters


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