Literary Lives: Thomas Hardy and the Victorian School Mistress by Dr Jonathan Godshaw Memel

Kate Hardy (front left) with other teachers © DCM

Kate Hardy (front left) with other teachers © DCM

‘… she had altogether the air of a woman clipped and pruned by severe discipline, an under-brightness shining through from the depths which that discipline had not yet been able to reach.’

(Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure)

This description of Sue Bridehead during her brief time at college suggests the restrictive character of nineteenth-century teacher training. The two-year programme at Salisbury enforced standards of ‘humble femininity’ while preparing women from various social backgrounds for a vocation in the elementary schools.

Hardy’s sisters, Mary and Katharine (generally known as Kate), attended college at Salisbury while his cousin, Tryphena Sparks, trained at Stockwell.  As schoolmistresses their profession enabled greater independence from the pressure to marry, but their personal freedom was severely restricted during the process of qualifying. Trainee teachers were required to carry out extensive chores and study for long hours and their food portions were meagre. They were also subject to continual surveillance, while their choice of dress was restricted.

In this talk Dr Memel will consider representations of the work and training of female teachers in Hardy’s fiction, showing how the experiences of his female relations inspired acts of solidarity and resistance in his writing.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Thursday 2 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Next Literary Lives talks:

  • Thursday 25th May, Hardy and Poetry of Encounter by Philip Mallett
  • Thursday 27th July, Mr Hardy and Mrs Henniker – an Enduring Friendship by Helen Angear
  • Thursday 14th September, The Infants’ Grammar by Dr Alan Chedzoy
  • Thursday 26th October, Hardy and Sex Education by Dr Karin Koeler

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Literary Lives: Thomas Hardy and Education by Dr. Jonathan Godshaw Memel

Thomas Hardy's  First School, Lower Bockhampton, Dorset

Thomas Hardy’s First School, Lower Bockhampton, Dorset

In his autobiography, Thomas Hardy remembers himself as an ‘apt pupil who galloped unconcernedly over the ordinary school lessons’ and a ‘born bookworm’ who learnt to read ‘almost before he could walk’. Education provided Hardy with the means to enter a profession and allowed his unmarried sisters, Mary and Kate, to live independent lives as schoolmistresses.

In this talk Dr. Jonathan Godshaw Memel will explore the ways in which Thomas Hardy’s fiction draws on these experiences, examining his treatment of residential training colleges, an ancient university and newly-built elementary schools. Hardy’s criticisms of the Victorian education system are also considered.

This talk is part of a series of four evening lectures organised by the Hardy Country project. A collaboration between the Dorset County Museum, the National Trust, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Thomas Hardy Society, Bath Spa University and the University of Exeter, to promote knowledge and understanding of Thomas Hardy and his works.

The forthcoming lecture will take place in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Next talks:

  • Thursday 26th May, Emma Lavinia: The First Mrs Hardy with Helen Gibson and Marilyn Leah.
  • Thursday 30th June, Thomas Hardy and Folksong by Dr. Peter Robson
  • Thursday 3rd November, The influnence of Hardy on the Cornish Poet, Jack Clemo

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Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol 136 – 2015

Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Volume 136 - 2015Remarkable archaeological finds, controversy over the latest film version of Far from the Madding Crowd and ‘the world’s biggest bite’ marine reptile exhibit are revealed in the new style annual just published by the Dorset County Museum.

Read about the pliosaur, the Museum’s latest marine reptile fossil exhibit, a fearsome creature which had the largest bite in the world. Experts discuss new film version of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Finds from the excavations at the Durotriges village excavations at Winterbourne Kingston and the major Roman villa excavation at Druce farm are detailed. Plus over twenty other major articles.

“We are really excited about the latest volume which looks great and has lots of fascinating articles,” says Dr Paul Lashmar, the journal’s editor. “These are scholarly papers but we pride ourselves that they are very readable so there is something in every edition to delight the casual reader or visitor to Dorset.”

Weymouth Bay Pliosaur Skull © DCM

Weymouth Bay Pliosaur Skull © DCM

The new volume features original line drawings on the cover that were used to illustrate the Cornhill Magazine serialisation of Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd in 1874.

“With its classic yet unique British countryside and a long and enthralling history Dorset is a remarkable county. Home too many great writers and artists Dorset can also boast the best prehistoric landscape in Britain and the geological wonders of the Jurassic Coast. The annual, the Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeology Society 2015 celebrates everything that is fascinating and important about Dorset.in the last year,” says Dr Lashmar.

Druce Farm Roman Villa

Druce Farm Roman Villa

While Dorset inspires many books, papers and articles, only Proceedings publishes with regard to academic scholarship. From its home at the Dorset County Museum Proceedings has published for 136 years a remarkable annual collection of scholarly papers, monographs and reports from a wide range of disciplines in the furtherance of knowledge and understanding.

CONTENTS:

PAPERS

  • What Tess meant to Hardy, and why Keith Wilson
  • Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) Directed By Thomas Vinterberg. A review Paul J. Niemeyer
  • How to get a head in Dorset County Museum: The tailless tale of Pliosaurus kevani Jenny Cripps
  • The environmental quality of the Sherford River (Dorset) assessed with macroinvertebrate data – Patrick D. Armitage, J.A.B. Bass & Adrianna Hawczak
  • Underwater light-trapping of mobile invertebrates in the Fleet lagoon, Dorset – Nina Wills, J. A. B. Bass & J. I. Jones
  • ‘Gone for a Burton’: Thomas Arthur Burton (1842-1936), musician & composer, and his family (from Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Cotswolds, Hampshire & Dorset) – Hugh S. Torrens
  • Mrs Alicia Moore, dedicatee of Henry Rowland Brown’s 1859 guidebook Beauties of Lyme Regis – Michael A. Taylor
  • A token found at Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, apparently associated with Mary Anning (1799–1847), fossil collector – Michael A. Taylor & Richard Bull
  • The Dorset Hundreds from the early nineteenth century – J. W. Hart

ARCHAEOLOGY

  • Dorset Archaeology in 2014
  • Portable Antiquities Scheme 2014 – Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen
  • Preston: Bowleaze Cove Romano-British building – Iain Hewitt And Grace Jones
  • Observations at Church Street, Christchurch – Michael Heaton with a contribution from Professor Malcolm Thurlby
  • Interim Report: Druce Farm Roman villa, Puddletown – Lilian Ladle And Andrew Morgan
  • Excavation of a Romano-British well at Farnham – Martin Green, Mark Maltby & Rob Perrin
  • Mortlake and Grooved Ware pottery associated with worked stone in a pit at Lambert’s Hill, Winterbourne Abbas, Dorset – Richard Tabor, With A Contribution By Cheryl Green
  • The Old Manor, Stratton – Rosemary Maw
  • The Thompson’s clay canal – A clay-working enterprise near Lytchett Bay, Poole in the 1830s – Bryan Gambier, Alan Hawkins And Keith Jarvis
  • Witchampton chess pieces – Gill Vickery
  • The Durotriges Project, Phase Two: an interim statement Miles Russell, Paul Cheetham, Damian Evans,Karina Gerdau-Radonic, Ellen Hambleton, Iain Hewitt, Harry Manley, Nivien Speith and Martin Smith
  • The Development of Properties inside the southern defences of Roman Durnovaria: an excavation at Charles Street, Dorchester – Andrew B. Powell with Contributions From Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy, Rachael Seager Smith & J.M. Mills

Proceedings are available from the Museum Shop Price £20.00. However if you become a member of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeology Society the price is £15.00. For more details about membership contact the the membership secretary on 01305 756829 or visit the website for more details www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

For further information and enquires about the Proceedings contact the editor Dr. Paul Lashmar on 01305 262735

Hardy, Wessex and the Poetry of War by Phillip Mallett

Phillip MallettOn Thursday 29th October at the Dorset County Museum Phillip Mallett of St Andrews University is giving a talk entitled ‘Hardy, Wessex and the Poetry of War’. Doors open at 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start.

Boer War‘Few persons are more martial than I,’ wrote Thomas Hardy, ‘or like better to write of war in prose & rhyme.’

The war in South Africa, 1899-1902, divided British opinion more deeply than any previous war had done; it began with defeats, and ended with concentration camps and a scorched earth policy. This talk traces Hardy’s response to the war, to military values, and to the impact of war on enlisted men and civilians.

This FREE talk is open to all. To cover costs, a small donation of £3.00 is encouraged. The talk will take place in the Museum’s Victorian Gallery.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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New online resource to explore fashion in Thomas Hardy’s writing

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Far From Madding Crowd

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From Madding Crowd – Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

The new film version of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd feeds into the ongoing fascination for fashion depicted in classic novels and their modern adaptations for TV and film. A new online facility has been developed by the University of Exeter and Dorset County Museum to catalogue references to clothing in Hardy’s writing and the time in which he lived.

The costumes worn by the actress Carey Mulligan, who stars as Bathsheba Everdene in the latest Far From the Madding Crowd production, will be on display at the Dorset County Museum until the 8 June and the stunning red bustle dress worn by Thomas Hardy’s sister Katharine also exhibited at the museum will provide an exciting compliment to the new online resource.

Far From Madding Crowd Costumes

Costumes worn by Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, in the wedding scenes in the film. There is the smart dress and hat of the runaway wedding day, the gold striped silk dress and embroidered silk jacket of her homeward journey, and a dress worn at the wedding party. Jonathan North /DCM © 2015

The ‘Thomas Hardy and Clothing’ project will highlight the importance of fashion in Hardy’s writing by providing references to clothing in his fiction, poetry, letters and biographies. It will also provide a greater understanding of the historical, social and political context in which Hardy wrote and lived.

The database project was initiated by The Dorset County Museum for the research into a forthcoming major exhibition ‘Thomas Hardy: Fashion, Fact and Fiction’. This exciting collaboration between the University of Exeter and The Dorset County Museum builds upon extensive research by Exeter students, instrumental in producing this unique online resource

Bustle dress from 1890s owned by Kate Hardy, sister of Thomas Hardy © Jonathan Gooding 2014

Bustle dress from 1890s owned by Kate Hardy, sister of Thomas Hardy © Jonathan Gooding 2014

Lucy Johnston, Costume Curator of the Dorset County Museum said ‘I am fascinated by the way Thomas Hardy brings his characters to life through their clothes. He dresses his heroines in colours to evoke spirit, passion and drama, clothing Bathsheba (Far From the Madding Crowd) in a crimson jacket lit to a ‘scarlet glow’ by the sun. Hardy associates Tess (Tess of the d’Urbervilles) with white and red to suggest her innocence and eventual downfall. He also provides an intimate picture of rural life through his detailed descriptions of shepherds, farmers and milkmaid’s costume, reflecting the wearer’s relationship with the Wessex landscape.’

Thomas Hardy expert, Professor Angelique Richardson of University of Exeter, and who supported the project said: ”Dress is crucial in Hardy’s fiction for indicating a character’s profession, social and economic status or role, for bringing colour to local scenes, for expressing but often subverting custom and transgressing gender norms. Bathsheba flouts Victorian convention, not least dress code, by not riding side-saddle in the opening scenes of Far From the Madding Crowd, when she also allows her hat to fly off, in disregard for propriety: ‘It went over the hedge, I think’, she remark.”

"There stood her mother amid the group of children, as Tess had left her, hanging over the Monday washing-tub, which had now, as always, lingered on to the end of the week. Out of that tub had come the day before—Tess felt it with a dreadful sting of remorse—the very white frock upon her back which she had so carelessly greened about the skirt on the damping grass—which had been wrung up and ironed by her mother's own hands. "  A Herkomer illustration for the Graphic serialization of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, December 1891.

“There stood her mother amid the group of children, as Tess had left her, hanging over the Monday washing-tub, which had now, as always, lingered on to the end of the week. Out of that tub had come the day before—Tess felt it with a dreadful sting of remorse—the very white frock upon her back which she had so carelessly greened about the skirt on the damping grass—which had been wrung up and ironed by her mother’s own hands.”                                                
A Herkomer illustration for the Graphic serialization of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, December 1891.

Professor Richardson added: “The database will show for the first time what such attire looked like and by whom it was worn. As well as providing a useful resource to students, allowing them to connect their academic learning with historical objects, the online facility will raise a greater awareness of the significant archive and costume collections in the South West. Hardy enthusiasts from around the world will be able to view our research and add their thoughts.”

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From Hardy to Vinterberg and back to Dorset again

Far from the Madding Crowd PosterWith the release of Thomas Vinterberg’s Far From The Madding Crowd, based on Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, Dorset County Museum is combing its unique collection of original Thomas Hardy artefacts alongside costumes from this eagerly awaited movie.

The Museum is exhibiting three beautiful dresses worn by actress Carey Mulligan who plays Hardy’s independent and strong female protagonist, Bathsheba Everdene. The movie boasts an impressive cast with Michael Sheen, Matthias Schoenaerts and Tom Sturridge starring as the three very different suitors all competing for the affections of Vinterberg’s leading lady; Carey Mulligan. This is a remarkable, once in a lifetime chance to experience the journey of Hardy’s story from its conception to its modern adaption in the very place it was inspired; Dorset.

Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd is one of the great literary classics. More than this, Hardy created one of the most iconic heroines who was so ahead of her time that the story is still strikingly modern to this day. She is a strong and independent woman, not only in her role as a farm heiress, but in the choices she faces in both life and love. She is arguably still an inspiration to any modern woman today, as she confronts the pressures of being a woman in man’s world whilst she attempts to uncover what, and who, her heart truly desires.


Vinterberg’s Vision for Dorset and its Leading Lady

In this film, Vinterberg envisaged his leading lady as a character who is as importance in modern times as when Hardy first imagined her. He described his Bathsheba Everdene as, ‘I wanted her to be this strong woman ahead of her time, who takes no orders from anyone, who steps into a man’s world with a female power that wasn’t really accepted at that time, that is still a topic of debate over 100 years later. And yet, at the same time, I wanted her to be this vulnerable woman trying to learn the rhythms of men and her surroundings. That duality is what makes her so rich and so alluring.’

Far From Madding Crowd Costumes

Costumes worn by Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, in the wedding scenes in the film. There is the smart dress and hat of the runaway wedding day, the gold striped silk dress and embroidered silk jacket of her homeward journey, and a dress worn at the wedding party. Jonathan North /DCM © 2015

It is through Bathsheba’s wardrobe that this aim is truly achieved. The costumes, designed by four times Academy Award nominee Janet Patterson (The Piano, Bright Star), are the visual expression of Bathsheba’s empowering characteristics. Her attire shows how ‘Vinterberg wanted to avoid the crinolines and bustles associated with Victoriana, so he moved the story’s action to 1880, when fashion suddenly turned to a sleeker, more modern silhouette – one more befitting a woman who rides, climbs ladders and jumps into the sheep dip.’ The Museum’s exhibition with three of these very costumes truly brings to life this vision of Vinterberg’s. They are all beautifully elegant and reflect Bathsheba’s attractiveness; whilst also having a striking and commanding presence.


Where the Past meets the Present

These exquisite costumes stand alongside some of Hardy’s original manuscripts and belongings. The Museum boasts an impressive collection of Thomas Hardy’s artefacts such as a manuscript of part of Far From The Madding Crowd, Volume I of first edition of Far From The Madding Crowd from 1874 and a Valentine card sent to his sister, Kate, (perhaps similar to the one Bathsheba sends to Farmer Boldwood). These original pieces are combined with modern paperback editions of the novel and souvenir booklets from both the silent film made 100 years ago by Turner Films and the upcoming 2015 version of Far From the Madding Crowd distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Original Thomas Hardy's manuscript of 'Far from the Madding Crowd' on display at the museum

Original Thomas Hardy’s manuscript of ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ on display at the museum. DCM © 2015


Dorset as an Original and Modern Muse

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Far From Madding Crowd

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From Madding Crowd – Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

Famously, Dorset played such an important role in the inspiration for Hardy’s novel. However, you might not be aware of the equally important role Dorset played in Vinterberg’s version of Far From The Madding Crowd. Thomas Vinterberg’s vision for his adaptation involved shooting right here in our very own Dorset. Vinterberg described Dorset as ‘the only place to shoot’ his movie. He was quoted saying, ‘Shooting on location was a necessity. These landscapes are so important to these characters and to the whole feeling of the story. We had to come here and get the real thing. We stayed in the places Hardy was inspired by, we embraced the surroundings and we felt a complete sense of surrender to this universe.’

So for your chance to witness this incredible fusion of Thomas Hardy’s original works alongside this impressive modern adaptation, get down to Dorset County Museum; the very place that inspired a story which has lasted, and is still powerful, over 100 years later. And don’t forget, you can see Vinterberg’s adaptation of, Far From The Madding Crowd, in cinemas from 1st May.

The costumes from the film are currently on display at the Dorset County Museum and on display until 8th June 2015. For further information contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Gabriella Crouch


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Far from the Madding Crowd at the Dorset County Museum

Far From Madding Crowd CostumesThe Writers Gallery at the Dorset County Museum is currently embellished by three striking costumes from the new film adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd, currently on loan from Fox Searchlight Pictures and Cosprop costumiers. These are outfits worn by Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba, the headstrong yet vulnerable heroine of the story, in the wedding scenes in the film. There is the smart dress and hat of the runaway wedding day, the gold striped silk dress and embroidered silk jacket of her homeward journey, and a dress worn at the wedding party. These costumes were designed by BAFTA Award winner and four times Academy Award nominated costume designer Janet Patterson (The Piano, Bright Star)

Bathsheba Everdene and Sgt. Frank Troy illustrated by Helen Allingham for 1874 The Cornhill Magazine serial of Thomas Hardy's Far From Madding Crowd

Bathsheba Everdene and Sgt. Frank Troy illustrated by Helen Allingham for 1874 The Cornhill Magazine serial of Thomas Hardy’s Far From Madding Crowd

On display too is a section of the novel written in Thomas Hardy’s own hand, illustrations from the original publication by Helen Allingham. Among much else to be seen is a first edition, and reproductions of scenes of rural Wessex by Henry Joseph Moule, Hardy’s friend and watercolourist, and the first curator of the Dorset County Museum.

Thomas Hardy would surely have welcomed the new film dramatization of one of his greatest novels. Adapted for the screen by novelist, David Nicholls, it is directed by the acclaimed Thomas Vinterberg. It is a powerful film, which reflects the essence of this great novel. The photography is stunning, giving a strong sense of place in the atmospheric shots of Dorset landscapes throughout the seasons. We see the inner turmoil of the characters in close up as the drama unfolds, and their outward reactions to the danger when the farm is under threat by fire or violent thunderstorm. This is a film full of action and drama.

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Far From Madding Crowd

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From Madding Crowd – Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

Above all, Far from the Madding Crowd is a love story about the beautiful Bathsheba Everdene and the three men who desire her. A young woman of spirit and vitality, she has the courage to take on challenges presented by her romantic relationships, and in becoming a successful woman farmer. Carey Mulligan brings Bathsheba to life in a remarkably sensitive manner. We feel her strength and spirit, and her youthful disregard of danger and consequent vulnerability, which will resonate with modern audiences.

Far from the Madding Crowd was written when Hardy was 33, and was his fourth published novel. It first appeared in serial form in 1874 in The Cornhill magazine with illustrations by Helen Allingham. The novel became so popular that Hardy could afford to give up architecture, to marry Emma Lavinia, and to become a full-time writer.

Hardy’s acute sense of colours and beauty and detail make his writing easy to visualise. For instance, Gabriel’s first view of Bathsheba:

…It was a fine morning and the sun lighted up to a scarlet glow the crimson jacket she wore, and painted a soft lustre upon her bright face and dark hair.

Later, the season for sheep-shearing having finished:

It was the first day of June …Every green was young, every pore was open and every stalk was swollen with racing currents of juice. God was palpably present in the country and the devil had gone with the world to town.

Bathsheba’s meeting with Troy is vividly expressed as she sees him lit up by a lantern as ‘brilliant in brass and scarlet ’and

His sudden appearance was to darkness what the sound of a trumpet is to silence.

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene and Tom Sturridge as Sgt. Frank Troy in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Far From Madding Crowd - Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene and Tom Sturridge as Sgt. Frank Troy in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From Madding Crowd – Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

This is a dramatic story, full of pivotal moments, changing fortunes and expectations. Bathsheba’s inheritance of her uncle’s farm provides her with great opportunities, whereas Gabriel’s loss of his sheep does the reverse. When Bathsheba sends a Valentine card, as a joke, to Boldwood it awakens a doom-laden obsession, whereas the chance encounter between Troy and Bathsheba sets them on the path of their passionate affair, with consequences beyond their own fate.

The setting is rural Wessex with its farms, villages and market towns and a way of life virtually unchanged for centuries, dependant on the livestock and crops grown by those who worked the land. People travel by foot, horseback, or horse-drawn vehicles, and are thus mostly rooted in their locality.

The lives of the main characters are played out against the backdrop of a close-knit community and the wider natural world. This local community includes workers, the farm owners and wealthier land owners, their lives interwoven as the drama unfolds. Even the dangerously attractive Sergeant Troy has his roots in the world of farming, as have Gabriel Oak and gentleman farmer, William Boldwood. In this tale happiness and sadness, comedy and tragedy, light and dark, and the sheer variety of moods, combine to make it compelling.

In the words of Virginia Woolf, talking about Hardy’s Wessex Novels:

Our imaginations have been stretched and heightened; our humour has been made to laugh out; we have drunk deep of the beauty of the earth.

The costumes from the film are currently on display at the Dorset County Museum and on display until 8th June 2015. For further information contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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Hardy Country Public Talks – Explore the Life and Work behind Far from the Madding Crowd

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From Madding Crowd – Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene in the new film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From Madding Crowd – Fox Searchlight Pictures © 2015

Thomas Hardy is one of the West Country’s most famous writers. His novels, including Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, are internationally renowned and have inspired numerous television and film adaptions, most recently Far From the Madding Crowd (2015) starring Carey Mulligan. A series of public talks exploring his life and work opens at the Dorset County Museum this Thursday evening 30th April at 7.00pm.

As part of a project to promote knowledge and understanding of Hardy, Professor Angelique Richardson of the University of Exeter is organising this series in collaboration with the National Trust and Dorset County Museum. Although Hardy is most commonly known to the public through his novels, the talks will provide further contexts for his work.
The series of four evening lectures is part of the larger Hardy Country project, which includes Dorset County Museum, the National Trust, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Thomas Hardy Society, Bath Spa University and the University of Exeter.

Prof. Keith Wilson, University of Ottawa

Prof. Keith Wilson, University of Ottawa

The 2015 series begins on Thursday 30th April with a talk by Professor Keith Wilson entitled ‘What Tess meant to Hardy, and why’, exploring Hardy’s special relationship with both the character and the book, Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Author of Thomas Hardy on Stage (1995), Professor Wilson is a leading Hardy scholar, who recently co-edited the latest volume of Hardy’s Collected Letters.

The series aim to show the strong connections between the Dorset writer and the local area. According to Professor Richardson, there is much more that we can learn about Hardy’s connections with the Southwest. She explained: “Hardy returned to the Southwest as he thought his writing became mechanical and ordinary in London, and he wanted to be among the people he was writing about, In his own words, ‘I find it a great advantage to be actually among the people described at the time of describing them.”

She added: “He was a frequent visitor to Devon -by train from Cornwall, and by bicycle and eventually motorcar from Dorchester. It was his ‘next county’, ‘lower Wessex’ in his ‘partly real, partly dream country’. Various places in Devon appear disguised to varying degrees in his fiction and poetry. Hardy’s first wife, Emma, who was born in Plymouth, wrote in 1911 ‘no county has ever been taken to my heart like that one: its loveliness of place, its gentleness, and the generosity of the people are deeply impressed upon my memory.’”

On Thursday 28th May Professor Richardson will deliver a talk titled “Hardy and the New Science”, focusing on connections between Hardy’s writing and Victorian biology. Professor Richardson’s talk will reveal the extent to which Hardy engaged with contemporary biological and medical ideas, exploring these in his fiction. They included some of the most hotly contested topics of the day from connections between mind and matter to the relation of men and women and questions of environment and heredity.

The forthcoming lectures will take place in the Dorset County Museum Victorian Gallery and are open, free-of-charge, to the public (donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs). Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

  • Thursday 30th April, Professor Keith Wilson, University of Ottawa, ‘What Tess meant to Hardy, and why’.
  • Thursday 28th May, Professor Angelique Richardson, University of Exeter, ‘Hardy and the New Science’.
  • Thursday 30th July, Professor Ann Heilmann, Cardiff University, ‘Hardy, Women and Marriage’.
  • Thursday 29th October, Phillip Mallett, University of St Andrews, ‘Hardy, Wessex and the Poetry of War’.

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Sherborne is now Casterbridge

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society

Patricia Spencer describes the temporary transformation of the SDFHS centre.

Arriving this morning for a meeting at our Sherborne Centre we found that the exterior of our building had been transformed into ‘The Friends’ Alms-House’ as it will appear in the new version of Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd which is being filmed in Sherborne this week.

There is a news report about the filming in Sherborne here on the BBC website.

Patricia Spencer

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Book Launch: Thomas Hardy: The World of His Novels by JB Bullen

Thomas Hardy: The World of His Novels by JB Bullen

Thomas Hardy: The World of His Novels by JB Bullen

Hardy Book Launch at Dorset County Museum 6th June 2013 at 6.00pm

Thomas Hardy’s Wessex is one of the great literary evocations of place, populated with colourful and dramatic characters.  As lovers of his novels and poetry know, this ‘partly real, partly dream-country’ was firmly rooted in the Dorset into which he had been born.

JB Bullen explores the relationship between reality and the dream, identifying the places and the settings for Hardy’s writing, and showing how and why he shaped them to serve the needs of his characters and plots. The locations may be natural or man-made, but they are rarely fantastic or imaginary. A few have been destroyed and some moved from their original site, but all of them actually existed, and we can still trace most of them on the ground today.

Thomas Hardy: The World of His Novels opens new and original perspectives for both those who already know his brilliant stories, and those who come to them for the first time.
JB Bullen holds the Chair of English Literature and Culture in the department of English Literature, Royal Holloway, University of London. He is also Professor Emeritus of the University of Reading where he lectured on English Literature and Art History for over twenty-five years. In 2010 he delivered the plenary lecture at the last international Hardy biennale. He is the author of many books and articles and lives in Oxford.

The book included chapters on Far from the Madding Crown, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Hardy’s poems.

Entry to the book launch is free.  It is followed at 7.30pm by an illustrated talk by Helen Gibson and Marilyn Leah entitled ‘Emma: West of Wessex Girl’ on the life of the first Mrs Thomas Hardy.

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

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