Literary Lives: Mr Hardy and Mrs Henniker – An Enduring Friendship in Letters by Helen Angear

Thomas Hardy LettersCome and join us on Thursday 27 July 2017 at 7.30pm, for an interesting talk by Helen Angear who has been working on the Thomas Hardy Correspondence Archive at Dorset County Museum. 

“It occurred to me the other day that this year completes the eighteenth of our friendship. That is rather good as between man and woman, which is usually so brittle” (Aug. 1911).  So wrote Hardy to Florence Henniker, an aristocratic lady and fellow writer he met in 1893. Hardy’s comment might make you think of the 1989 film ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and the unresolved question of whether men and women can ever be ‘just friends’.

In fact, Hardy and Henniker’s platonic friendship lasted almost thirty years and both sides of their correspondence exist within the archive to tell the story. Henniker’s gift of an inkstand, sent in the post in 1893, can also be seen in Hardy’s study upstairs in the Museum. This talk examines the important role that letters played in their enduring friendship. I seek to dispel the assumption that this is simply a story of unrequited love and reveal how their dialogue provides an understanding of intimate, but non-marital, social bonds between the sexes at the turn of the century.

A selection of the letters will also be on display.

Helen Angear

Helen Angear

Helen Angear is an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award student at the University of Exeter, in collaboration with Dorset County Museum.  She is working on the Hardy correspondence archive, and her PhD is called Thomas Hardy’s Correspondents: Proximity and Distance in Postal Communication’. Helen is also an Associate Lecturer at Exeter College.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Thursday 27 July 2017 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

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Hardy’s Poetry of the First World War by Professor Tim Kendal

Hardys Poetry of the First World WarIn 1899, at the outbreak of hostilities in South Africa, Thomas Hardy was moved to express his loathing of war. Yet at the same time he confessed that his passions were stirred as soon as war became inevitable: ‘few persons are more martial than I,’ he told Florence Henniker, ‘or like better to write of war in prose & rhyme.’

Unlike his Boer War writings, Hardy’s poems of the Great War rarely attempt a documentary account, but they are similarly divided. Moments of Vision (1917) juxtaposes decent and dutiful verses like ‘Men Who March Away’ and ‘A Call to National Service’ with poems like ‘A New Year’s Eve in War Time’ describing horrors, griefs and self-doubt.

On Thursday 24th October 2013 at 7.30pm, Professor Tim Kendal of the University of Exeter will attempt to make sense of these apparent contradictions through an account of Hardy’s complex aesthetic and political reactions to the War.

Entry 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. Doors open at 7.00pm.

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

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