On Thursday 30th July, Professor Ann Heilmann of Cardiff University is giving a literary talk at Dorset County Museum entitled ‘Hardy, Women and Marriage’.
When, with the death of his first wife Emma, Hardy embarked on his Poems of 1912-13, the estranged husband reconstituted himself in author and journalist Claire Tomalin’s words as ‘a lover in mourning’. It is perhaps a fitting irony that the man who reconfigured his marriage after the event had spent his novelistic career waging war on conventional Victorian ideas of marriage.
Hardy’s attack on marriage as a social and legal institution pervades his entire fiction, from his first novel Desperate Remedies (1871) and its sensation-style foray into bigamy, to his final masterpiece, Jude the Obscure (1895): a book which prompted the Mrs Grundy of Victorian literature, Margaret Oliphant, to denounce Hardy as the leading figure in the contemporary ‘Anti-Marriage League’.
This talk discusses marriage in Hardy’s life and fiction, highlighting his radical critique of Victorian legal conditions and his early espousal of women’s rights.
All are welcome to the talk which starts at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7.00pm. The talk is free of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.