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>> Thomas Hardy Confidential 2019 June

This course offers us varied perspectives on Thomas Hardy. We’ll have visits to places he knew and loved, chances to share favourite poems or passages from the novels too. But at the heart of the course Nicholas Hillyard and Graham Fawcett offer us a wealth of new insights.

About Tryphena is Nicholas’s fascinating book exploring how a ‘secret’ love affair when Hardy was in his 20s - and his cousin in her teens – marked him for life and influenced many of his poems and best known novels. Why is so little known of this relationship? How did Hardy’s autobiography steer readers away from the truth? Without being an Eng. Lit. professional, Nicholas has challenged some of the received wisdom about Hardy. The renowned critic John Carey called his book

“a truly wonderful piece of historical reconstruction… I cannot think of another piece of criticism I have read about any author that delves more sensitively into a writer’s creative processes.”

Graham Fawcett ‘brings poets alive’ in a totally distinctive way by a riveting interweaving of a writer’s life and work. Of our Dorset poet he writes this:

“Thomas Hardy became a poet because of Queen Victoria. Born in 1840, three years after her accession, Hardy the great Victorian novelist hit on a drastic way of dealing with the tsunami of Victorian moral and critical outrage which greeted both Tess and Jude The Obscure: he turned his back on fiction and his already prolific life of fourteen novels and three books of short stories, and dramatically re-invented himself at the age of 55 as the poet he had really always been since writing – in his 20s - many poems he had never published. The death of his first wife Emma in 1912 led directly to the best poetry Hardy ever wrote…

"There is to this day real comfort and endless pleasure to be had from the visionary and romantic qualities of so much of Hardy’s poetry, his sustained marriage of treasured poetic traditions with thrilling experiment, the narrative vividness of his Wessex settings wild and rustic, and the eurhythmic wonders composed by his unerring ear.”

Tatterdemalion is a group of folk musicians born out of the New Hardy Players and their mcuh-praised stagings of Hardy's novels and short stories.

Virginia Astley, who will convene the event, is a musician and writer; 2018 saw the publication of her book "The English River: a journey down the Thames in poems & photographs". We could not have a better guide to the houses where Hardy lived and wrote.

Will you join us on Hardy Confidential for new light on a great writer, for historic houses and glorious countryside, for song and dance, for shared fun and relaxation in community?