Thomas Hardy and Sylvia Townsend Warner: Wessex Writers

Thomas Hardy and Sylvia Townsend Warner: Wessex WritersA Joint Study Weekend between the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society and Thomas Hardy Society.

There will be a meal (£35.00) at the Casterbridge Room, King’s Arms 7 pm on Saturday (10th February). To book please contact the King’s Arms directly: Tel: 01305 238238, email

The schedule for Sunday 11th February will be a 10:30 am visit to Max Gate, a 12.30 luncheon and then a walk around Chaldon Herring after lunch.

If you would like lunch on Sunday then they need to book directly with ‘ The Sailor’s Return’.

Although not born in Dorset, the author and poet Sylvia Townsend Warner, fell in love with the county when she visited Chaldon Herring and the surrounding area in the 1920s. A prolific writer of short stories she contributed to the New Yorker magazine for over 40 years. Her life in Chaldon Herring was very similar to the Bloomsbury Group as she was surrounded by artists and writers –her partner Valentine Ackland, the Powys family, Elizabeth and Hope Muntz, Stephen Tomalin, David Garnett, T.E.Lawrence and Augustus John. The weekend will consider Hardy and Warner's writing against the backdrop of a Wessex Landscape.

Speakers will include Professor Jan Montefiore, Professor Peter Swaab and Mark Damon Chutter.

Tickets: Please book by the 31st January 2024 

  • £40 Non-Members

  • £35 Members

  • £30 Students and Unemployed

Please book tickets here:

­­Thomas Hardy and Sylvia Townsend Warner study weekend 10-11 February 2024

Saturday 10 February - Dorchester Library

11.15 - 11.45. Introductory Remarks. Mark Chutter - ‘Hardy and Warner: Encounters, Affinities and Influences’.  Janet Montefiore

11.45 - 12.00. Coffee

12.00 – 1.15   Mark Ford, ‘Hardy’s Elegies for Emma’ - Peter Robinson, ‘Hardy and Warner Haunting Churchyards’         

Lunch 1.15 – 2.15

2.15 – 3.30     Mark Chutter, ‘Warner’s Journals’- Peter Swaab, ‘Hardy, Warner and Life’s Little Ironies’

3.30 – 4.00     Tea

4.00 – 5.00     Guided walk around Hardy's Casterbridge with Mark Chutter.

The King’s Arms, Dorchester*

6.00 – 7.00      Hardy, Warner and their poetic successors. Selected poems by Hardy, Warner, and others, introduced by various speakers.

7.00 – 8.30      Supper at the King’s Arms


Sunday 11 February - Max Gate

10.30               Visit to Max Gate

12.30               Lunch at the Sailor’s Return, East Chaldon.

NB Please contact The King’s Arms (email, phone 01305 238238) with dietary requirements and to book your place for supper and The Sailor’s Return (email, phone 01305 854441) to book your place for lunch.

*Study Day Conference Meals

Our Conference Dinner will be held at the King’s Arms, 30 High East Street, Dorchester, which is offering us a three-course meal for the very reasonable price of £35.00.   The menu looks excellent, and caters not only for meat- and fish-eaters, but for vegetarians and vegans, very well. The menu can be downloaded below.

Book your dinner by phoning the King’s Arms, 01305 238238, by January 31st at the latest, identifying yourself as attending the Thomas Hardy/ Sylvia Townsend Warner Study Day in Dorchester on February 10.

Lunch on Saturday will not take long. We suggest you use one of the many cafés in Dorchester Town Centre.

On Sunday, Feb 11th, we shall have lunch 12.30 pm at The Sailor’s Return, East Chaldon, following our visits to Max Gate at 10.30 and then to East Chaldon, including its parish church of St Nicholas, in whose churchyard is the gravestone of Sylvia Townsend Warner and her lover Valentine Ackland. (St Nicholas is always open; according to its parish webpage, it holds a sung Eucharist on the second Sunday of each month – but at 9 am, so we needn’t worry about interrupting an ongoing church service.)

Lunch on Sunday Feb 11th must likewise be booked in advance. The Sailor’s Return is closed on annual leave until January, 17th, so call them on 01305 854441 any time between then and 31st January to book your meal.

We look forward to meeting you on February 10th and 11th, for what promises to be a splendid weekend. Thank you.

The King’s Arms in Dorchester will offer Thomas Hardy Society members only a room for £100 per night for all events ( the deal does not include breakfast - room only ). Please contact the hotel to book your accommodation directly :
01305 238238

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