This is not a gallery of high-quality photography; it is a homage to a brilliant English author with a photographic memory and a true sense of 'place' who could describe in words, better than most of us can with images, the English landscape. In September 2014 Jane, Trevor and Robin Williams spent seven days tracing locations relating to Thomas Hardy's life and work in "Wessex", the ancient Kingdom resurrected by Hardy. From Swanage in the East to Boscastle in the West they covered six Counties and dozens of locations (too many to record fully here). Hardy was one of England's greatest authors with 15 novels, 50 short stories and over 900 poems to his name. He made 'place' central to his narrative – almost at times a character – and had a unique ability to observe, remember and recreate the details of rural life in Dorset. Often described as a pessimistic fatalist, Hardy believed that he described life as it really was, with luck and chance playing its part in the lives of his characters as they struggled against their passions and social circumstances. His novels were controversial and profoundly challenging at the time of publication. Indirectly he documented a rural way of life that had changed little in 400 years, but which has now gone forever, save for echoes in folk music and a few country activities like Maypole dancing, or the making of Corn Dollies. After 35 years as a bachelor, Hardy was married twice – to Emma Gifford for 38 years and then to Florence Dugdale for 14 years – until his death at the age of 87 in 1928. In Hardyan, 'gothic' style, his heart belonged to Dorset and is buried with the rest of his family in Stinsford graveyard, his body belonged to the Nation and is buried in Poet's corner, Westminster Abbey.
I just came upon your wonderful slide tour, "The Thomas Hardy Trail," when looking for some scenes to help explain to a friend why Hardy so penetrates my innermost being. I visited some -- but not all -- of these scenes in 1988, and it was a thrill to make my way through the images you have captured. It would appear that little has changed, which is almost too good to be true. Just wanted to say thank you! I am bookmarking this page and hope it stays up for many years to come. Just beautiful! And so comprehensive.
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