Launch of Hardy Country

Hardy CountryThursday 6th June 2013 sees the official launch of a major new project promoting the world of Thomas Hardy.  “Hardy Country” is a brand new initiative from a group made up of Dorset County Museum, The National Trust, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Thomas Hardy Society, and Dorset County Council. They have been working together to make Hardy Country into an internationally recognised, high quality visitor destination.

The first stage in the delivery of this vision is to provide a firm link between the two Hardy properties (Hardy’s birthplace and Max Gate), Dorset County Museum (which houses the famous ‘Hardy Collection’) and Clouds Hill, former retreat of T. E. Lawrence.  All are locations strongly associated with Hardy, his life and his novels and poetry and they come together here for the first time to make a co-ordinated visitor “offer”.

Accessed by a joint ticket costing just £20 (a saving of £6 on visiting all the locations separately), the project will inspire intellectual, emotional and physical engagement with the Dorset landscape and its cultural heritage.  For the first time, Thomas Hardy will be properly placed within the landscape and historic built environment that surrounded him during his life. Tickets will be on sale at all four locations plus the Dorchester Tourist Information Centre from 6th June.  More information is available from the website at www.hardycountry.org.

Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum said, “If Hardy Country works well, we will look to develop the offer further by introducing walking and cycling trails, information about  the properties and surrounding areas, and  possibly shuttle buses or cycle hire between all the locations to help bring Hardy’s world alive to our visitors.”

There will also be an extensive educational programme to identify themes within Hardy’s work which are relevant today and make Hardy and his fellow writers more accessible to all age groups.

Sue Mitchell, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership and Chair of the Hardy Country Group said, “Thomas Hardy is a key part of our Dorset culture, he is all around us wherever we are in the county.  We are so lucky to be able to go out into Hardy’s countryside, and still see many of the things which inspired and deeply influenced his writings.”

In a further boost to the project, Dorset County Museum have recently been advised  that their Thomas Hardy Collection has become part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World – a catalogue of documentary heritage of global significance including the Magna Carta and the Mappa Mundi.

Hardy Country will be launched at approximately 7.00pm on Thursday 6th June following the launch of a new book on Hardy by J. B. Bullen, and before a talk by Helen Gibson and Marilyn Leah about Hardy’s first wife, Emma, which starts at 7.30pm. Entry is FREE and everyone is welcome.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Related Sources:

Lunchtime Poetry and Music: Thomas Hardy’s ‘Emma Poems’ read by Furse Swann and Sue Theobald

Emma Hardy

Emma Hardy from the Dorset County Museum’s Hardy Collection © DCM

On Thursday 13th June between 1.00pm and 2.00pm Furse Swann and Sue Theobald present a Celebration of Hardy’s love poems.

One of the treasured manuscripts to be found at Dorset County Museum is that of Satires of Circumstance, Thomas Hardy’s fourth book of verse.  At its centre are ‘The Poems of 1912-13’, a collection of poems about his first wife, Emma, who died in November 1912.

Overcome with remorse and an upwelling of love for the young Emma he had first met in Cornwall in 1870, Hardy wrote these elegiac poems – almost certainly the closest to his heart.

To celebrate the centenary of the writing of ‘Poems of 1912-13’, Furse Swann and Sue Theobald read the twenty-one poems that make up the sequence, with the performance of some of the tunes from the Hardy music books, played on fiddles by Lorraine Tillbrook and Elspeth Gracie.

‘O the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea,
And the woman riding high above with bright hair flapping free –
The woman whom I loved so, and who loyally loved me.’

Entry to the poetry reading is FREE but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs. Everyone is welcome and there is no need to book.  This event will start promptly at 1.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Related Sources:

Event: Emma: West of Wessex Girl An illustrated talk by Helen Gibson and Marilyn Leah

Emma Hardy

Emma Hardy from the Dorset County Museum’s Hardy Collection © DCM

On Thursday 6th June Helen Gibson, honorary curator at Dorset County Museum, and Marilyn Leah, former custodian of Max Gate, Hardy’s Dorchester home, discuss the life and work of Emma Gifford – first wife of Thomas Hardy.  This is a celebration of the life of a remarkable woman in words and images with reminiscences of her early life, her meeting with Thomas Hardy, the story of their courtship and their life together.

Emma Lavinia Gifford was the first Mrs Thomas Hardy.  Diarist, Suffragette and Campaigner, Emma’s own words describe her beliefs and convictions, and her artistic accomplishment is seen in images of her watercolours and sketches from the extensive Hardy Collection at Dorset County Museum.

Emma and Thomas married in 1874, and after eleven years of living in and around London, settled in Dorset at Max Gate, Dorchester, for the rest of their lives. European holidays, visits to friends, and extensive entertaining at Max Gate, all added variety to their life there together.

Come and find out what Emma thought about her husband and others in her life, her thwarted ambition, independence of spirit, and the recollections of those who knew her.

Just before the talk on 6th June, between 6.00pm and 7.00pm, there will be the launch of a new book by JB Bullen: Thomas Hardy – The World of His Novels which explores the settings of Hardy’s novels and shows how he shaped them to serve the needs of his characters and plots.

Entry to the book launch and to the talk is free but a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs. Everyone is welcome and there is no need to book.

A second Hardy event, a reading of ‘Hardy’s Love Poems’ by Furse Swann and Sue Theobald takes place at 1.00pm on 13th June.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Related Sources: