The Rescheduled THS Biennial Conference!
From Saturday 10th July 2021 until Saturday 17th July 2021
Starts 13:30 until 12:30
Sunninghill School, South Court, South Walks Road, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1EB

The Twenty-Fourth International Thomas Hardy Festival and Conference

Dorchester, Dorset, England

Saturday 10th July – Saturday 17th July 2021

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Despite curtailments caused by Covid-19, lockdowns, social distancing and international travel restrictions, our postponed 24th Festival and Conference is very definitely going ahead this July – with all appropriate measures in place to comply with anti-viral regulations.

Inevitably in this strange new world, some of the speakers and participants originally booked for July 2020 will not be able to join us in July 2021. However, we have a comprehensive programme of events planned. Small may well be beautiful – and certainly will not reduce the intensity of the experience. Judging from the popularity of the few actual events that we have been able to hold over the past year, our members are just glad to be allowed to meet again and enjoy once more the world of Hardyan study and appreciation.

The Festival and Conference will be based this time at Sunninghill School in the South Walks, Dorchester – once the home of Alfred Pope, brewer and friend of Thomas Hardy.
The academic programme is being co-ordinated by Mark Chutter, our new Academic Director. Lecturers include Professor Jane Thomas, Professor Pamela Gilbert, Luke Rake, Mark Chutter and Professor Simon Olding. The ‘Call for Papers’ sessions – to be kept in their new morning plenary position will involve talks from new and established Hardy scholars from around the world.

There will be considerable involvement of local schools in this year’s festival. There will be two talks on paintings of Hardy’s Landscape, a painting workshop and several talks on Hardy related local projects.

Alan Johnson, former Government minister and MP, and renowned Hardyan, will be a keynote speaker of our Festival, and there will be a specially recorded personal memoir by Julie Christie on being Bathsheba Everdene. Poets booked include Pascale Petit and Mark Ford. The entertainment programme will start with a barn dance led by The Casterbridge Band on the Sunday evening; there will be a preview of the New Hardy Players forthcoming production of The Mayor of Casterbridge; there will be a dramatic presentation of ‘Hardy meets M.R. James: An Evening of Ghosts and Gothic’; there will be a Hardy Quiz and a Question Time – and after the farewell dinner Tatterdemalion and Tim Laycock will perform their musical rendition of Hardy’s Satires of Circumstance.

The walks and tours will include a visit to Stourhead, a musical Under the Greenwood Tree walk with the Thompsons, an Exploration of Durnover (Fordington), a Tess tour, a Puddletown walk, a Budmouth and Isle of Slingers walk, a Beaminster and Bridport Tour and a Purbeck walk. Full particulars of these outings and booking details will appear shortly on our website.

Meanwhile, do book your place for what promises to be a most exciting Conference and Festival!

Programme of Events:

Saturday 10th July 11am - 6pm: Registration              

                                             6.30: Drinks Reception followed by Welcome Dinner

                                             9pm: Julie Christie - A Personally Recorded Memoir of Being Bathseba Everdene      

Sunday 11th July 10am: Service at St Michael's Church in Stinsford, following by the laying of the Hardy Memorial Stone previously at Westminster Abbey

                                            2.30pm: Ed Bourne - A Life With Hardy's Landscapes, an illustrated art lecture

                                            7.30pm: A Barn Dance with The Casterbridge Band

Monday 12th July 9.15am: Keynote Lecture - Luke Rake 'Tess at Kingston Maurward-An Exploration of a Writer's Muse'

                                             11.00am: Call For Papers Session 1 - 'Past and Present'

                                             3.30pm: Tim Laycock presents The Mayor of Casterbridge - an NHP Preview 

                                             6pm: Harriet Still presents The Wessex Museums Project

                                             7pm: Rites of Way with Hardy at the Visitor Centre Higher Bockhampton

                                             8.15pm: Pascale Petit - An Evening of Poetry and Conversation

Tuesday 13th July 9.15am: Keynote Lecture - Professor Simon Olding 'Brian Graham's Paintings of Egdon Heath'

                                             11am: Call For Papers Session 2 - 'Idiosyncratic Modes of Regard'

                                             3pm: Post-Graduate Welcome and Forum

                                             6.30pm: Book Launch at Waterstone's - Richard Franklin 'Hardy and Religion'

                                             8pm: Mark Ford - An Evening of Poetry and Conversation

Wednesday 14th July 9.15am: Keynote Lecture - Professor Pamela Gilbert 'Temporalities and the Body in A Laodicean'

                                              11am: Call For Papers Session 3 - 'Hardy and Others'

                                              2pm: A Painting Workshop with Gilly Lacey

                                              7pm: Philip Lange Recital - 'The Pianist of Casterbridge: Playing Works Contemporary with Hardy and a Schubert Sonata' at St. Mary's Church

Thursday 15th July 9.15am: Keynote Lecture - Professor Jane Thomas 'Why Desperate Remedies is Important'

                                              11am: Call For Papers Session 4 - 'Hardy the Radical'

                                              3pm: The Common Reader Seminar

                                              6.30pm: The Thomas Hardy Quiz

                                              8pm: 'When Thomas Hardy Met M.R. James - An Evening of Ghosts and Gothic'

Friday 16th July 9.15am: Keynote Lecture - Mark Chutter '"Vice ran freely": The White Apron, The Skimmity and Subversve Religion in Hardy's Mixen Lane'

                                              11am: Hardy Question Time - with Dr Tony Fincham, Professor Jane Thomas, Dr Hugh Epstein, and Dr Steph Meek

                                              6.30pm: Farewell Dinner

                                              8.30pm: Tatterdemalion and Tim Laycock present 'Satires of Circumstance'

Saturday 17th July 9.15am: Thomas Hardy Society 53rd Annual General Meeting

                                              11am: Alan Johnson - 'Thomas Hardy and My Life in Books'

                                               12 Noon - Close


Download the Conference Flyer and Manual Booking Form Here


If you have any queries, including registering dietary requirements, please contact the THS Secretary - Tracy Hayes - on or 07867 666737



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