Hardy and Religion




Welcome to this year’s Patrick Tolfree essay competition, open to students of any academic level over the age of 18 and living anywhere in the world.


The theme for this year’s competition is ‘Hardy and Religion’, perhaps a well-known research topic for students of Hardy’s work. Essays of not more than 4000 words in length are warmly invited. They may focus on, but are by no means limited to, the following:

Hardy’s own relationship with faith and how this is translated across his work.
His depiction of alternative forms of religion.
Spirituality, or belief in the afterlife.
The effect class has on Hardy’s characters’ sense of religion.
The way faith is presented in rural areas versus the city.
Hardy’s lifelong love of church music.
Hardy and religious architecture.


Entries may follow any standard referencing style for foot- or endnotes and bibliography. Any aspect of Hardy's prolific output may be focussed upon, whether it be novels, short stories, poems, essays, or his contribution to architecture.

The author of the best entry in the opinion of the judges will receive £250, and one year’s free membership in the Thomas Hardy Society. The winning entry will be published (following the usual process for feedback and amendments) in the Thomas Hardy Journal.


Please send your entry by email to students@hardysociety.org

or by post to TOLFREE ESSAY COMPETITION, Thomas Hardy Society,

c/o Dorchester Town Council, 19 North Square, Dorchester, DT1 1JF.


The closing date for submissions is 31st October 2021.


This competition honours the late Patrick Tolfree, avid Hardy reader and scholar,

author of monographs and tireless promoter of interest in Hardy's life and works in local schools.

For enquiries please contact Rebecca Shipp, THS Student Representative: students@hardysociety.org


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