Frequently Asked Questions about Thomas Hardy
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Frequently Asked Questions

Ask or Answer Questionsabout Thomas Hardy

Welcome to the Thomas Hardy Society's Questions and Answers. Theaim in this section is the asking and answering of questions by readers to gain a greater understandingof Thomas Hardy's life and literature. Look through the category contentsand check outthe currentlist.

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Question 1:

I wonder whether any of your readers knows the source of the name FARNFIELD which Hardy used for the Sussex estate in "The Hand Of Ethelberta"?' Could it have been because he knew my great-grandmother, Frances Shore Pope?. She married, as her second husband, Dr Walter Edmund FARNFIELD, a Londoner, on 6 August 1872. I believe this was around the time Hardy was beginning to collect material for 'The Hand of Ethelberta'. Her brother Edmund and Dr Farnfield had been fellow medical students. Frances Shore Pope was baptised in Stinsford, 19 September 1833. The 1841 census shows her living with her family at 'Old Kingston Mansion House' in Kingston Maurward, aged 8. If anyone can give me any information, however slight, I shall be most interested. For my part, I have extensive records of the Pope and Farnfield families.
From Miriam Scott


Stephen Mottram says: Robert Gittings has shown that hounds were fed with horseflesh at Findon (which Hardy knew through Eliza Nicholls) and that he used the name Farnfield as also having an 'F' initial. (THS Review 1984 p307). In both places the hounds made the howling sound. Farnfield was at first Harefield (changed in 1896). The name is like Farnham, and rather more SW from London than Findon. Probably the estate name has little to do with your family's name, but it may have been in the back of Hardy's mind.

Question 2:

I need an appropriate quotation of about 2/3 lines from a poem or novel where a candle (or candles) is mentioned. So far, I have not been very successful from my own research, so am now appealing to the experts. Do let me know if you can come up with something. From Heather Shean


From 'The Three Strangers': "The room was lighted by half-a-dozen candles......two of them standing on the chimney-piece. This position of candles was in itself significant. Candles on the chimney-piece always meant a party." From 'Under The Greenwood Tree' - Autumn 11 Honey-taking and Afterwards 'All right, friend; I'll hold the candle whilst you are gone,' said Mr Shiner, leisurely taking the light and allowing Geoffrey to depart, which he did with his usual long paces. He could hardly have gone round to the housedoor when other footsteps were heard approaching the outbuilding: the tip of a finger appeared in the hole through which the wood latch was lifted, and Dick Dewy came in, having been all this time walking up and down the wood vainly waiting for Shiner's departure. Fancy looked up and welcomed him rather confusedly. Shiner grasped the candlestick more firmly...

Question 3:

My niece remembers a "story" going around the family that her great grandfather was related to Thomas Hardy. We realise that not all Hardys are related. However after many years of doing Family History I have found occasions when the most unlikely of "stories" has been true. So here goes is this person related to Thomas Hardy? - George Hawley Ernest Watkins Hardy born 4th September 1870, died 14th July 1950 Married Mary Anne Ashford date unknown. The family did reside in Dorset and it is believed that two Aunts lived in " Quiet splendour" in Swanage and that one relative was a County Constable in Surrey. I would love to provide my sister who is over 80 with the connection if it is true. Can anyone help? thank you Anne Pearlman


Michael Rabiger says: Using (which gives access to BMD and census records) I can locate neither great grandparent with any certainty. Unfortunately people augment or change their names, and sometimes claim to be married when they aren't, and this makes the genealogist's search difficult. How reliable are the names and dates you supply? Are they orally transmitted or from written records? Does anyone in your family have any further detail? This may however help you: AMary Ann Ashford married a George Hardy in late 1899 at St George's, Hanover Square. Possibly this was her first husband, and Watkins her second, although I can find no record of the latter. After the publication of "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" anyone surnamed Hardy could lay claim to a whiff of brimstone. I have come across others who believed themselves related, and could find no connection. The search is presently hampered by the great grandparents having surnames that are common, and there is no sure places of birth or of residency to narrow the field. I can't even find a record of George Watkins' death in 1950. If you can come up with further details, contact me direct, I'll be glad to try another search. Good luck!

Question 4:

Penny asks: Does anyone know the origins of the lines quoted by Knight in A PAIR OF BLUE EYES "To set as sets the morning star, which goes not down behind the darken'd west". Is it a Hardy poem?


Tony Fincham says: It is by Robert Pollok - from 'The Course of Time', V, published in 1827. This poem was in Hardy's copy of Palgrave's Golden Treasury.

Question 5:

I am looking for nos. 31,40,55, 62 and 63 of The Toucan Press 'Monographs on the Life of Thomas Hardy' editor J.Stevens Cox. Does anyone have a spare copy to sell? Tony Daniels


These monographs can often be obtained online via sources such as Amazon or Abe Books.

Question 6:

Lilian asks: I need a full list of studies dedicated to Hardy's short stories . I have found some texts and criticism about Hardy's short stories which listed in TTHA hosted by Martin Ray, but the list does not conclude the new information. Who can offer some information about the studies on TH's short stories after 21th century? Thank you.

Answer :

I am not quite clear what is meant in the question about 'after the 21st century'. Here anyway are details of the three books devoted exclusively to Hardy's short stories: - The Short Stories of Thomas Hardy: Tales of Past and Present, by Kristin Brady, published by Macmillan 1982 - Thomas Hardy: A Textual Study of the Short Stories, by Martin Ray, published by Ashgate 1997 - Thomas Hardy's Shorter Fiction: A Critical Study, by Sophie Gilmartin and Rod Mengham, published by Edinburgh University Press 2007. Hope it helps. Regards Patrick Tolfree

Question 7:

Terri Plemons asks: Which was Hardy's last poem, the one he dictated to Florence?


According to Professor Michael Millgate, Hardy's principal biographer, on the day he died, 11th January, 1928, Hardy dictated 'brief bitter epitaphs on two men, G.K. Chesterton and George Moore, whose personal remarks had given lasting offence'. They are entitled 'Epitaph for G.K. Chesterton' and 'Epitaph for George Moore' and they are nos. 946 and 947, the last two poems in 'Thomas Hardy: the Collected Poems', edited by Dr James Gibson. Millgate does not actually say whether it was to Florence that he dictated the poems, but she is the obvious candidate. Millgate quotes as his source for this piece of information the notes R.L. Purdy made of conversations he had with Florence between 1929 and 1937. Patrick Tolfree

Question 8:

Good evening! I am writing to you as I am aware thus I will have the right answers. Would you be so kind as to guide me concerning the fact I need to write a PhD thesis on Thomas Hardy's art of portrait and love and I would like to gather more genuine information and even photos. Thank you so much! Respectfully, Simona Rosca


Awaiting an Answer

Question 9:

Lucy says: This is a rather obscure question, we've recently moved into a house in Dorchester that we believe was once owned by a Charles Lacey, who also wrote 'Memories of Thomas Hardy as a Schoolboy' - can anyone tell me more about Charles Lacey and his relation to Thomas Hardy, its just out of personal interest!


Awaiting an Answer

Question 10:

John David Evans asks: Did T.E.Lawrence meet or correspond with Thomas Hardy? Thanks in anticipation.


Yes. See Millgate, Michael 'Thomas Hardy A Biography'. Tony Fincham

Question 11:

Why did Hardy - in some versions - date 'Wessex Heights' 14th December 1896? Tony Fincham


Michael Rabiger says: As Hardy got older, the Christmas period reminded him with increasing piquancy of vanished happiness when the Hardy, Hand and Sparks families met for marriages and Christmas reunions. In 'Wessex Heights' the narrator, standing defensively on an isolated height, surveys each of the places in the landscape where a woman's spirit stands in mute reproach. One (probably the 'ghost at Yell'ham Bottom') was his cousin Tryphena who had married Charles Gale 15 Dec 1877.

Question 12:

Sarah asks: Is there a poem with a line similar to "many days and many hours?"


No, Sarah - not in Hardy. 'Many days' appears once only - in Line 22 of 'The Pine Planters' & 'many hours' appears once only - in the final line of 'Liddell and Scott'. (Poems 225 & 828 in the Jim Gibson book). Tony Fincham

Question 13:

Shelagh Blackmore asks: In the poem Afternoon Service at Melstock Church is it possible to identify the Tate and Brady Psalm being sung? Where would I find it in print or on the internet?


The point of metrical psalms like those published in Tate and Brady's 'New Version of the Psalms of David Fitted to the Tunes used in Churches' (1696) was that they could be sung to any tune with the correct metre. Before the widespread adoption of hymnals like 'Hymns Ancient and Modern' (1861), many churches would have developed their own traditions for linking texts and tunes. "Cambridge New," composed by John Randall (1715-99), utilises what is known as Common Metre (86 86, with repeats) and could, therefore, have been potentially used for a large number (perhaps the majority) of the psalm texts published in Tate and Brady. I know that some of the musical note-books belonging to Hardy and his ancestors survive, but I'm not sure whether these include specific information on the usage of "Cambridge New" at Stinsford. The only clue that I've been able to find in the Hardy literature comes from Timothy Hands. In the entry on architecture in the 'Oxford Reader's Companion to Hardy' (ed. Norman Page (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 16), Hands writes on 'Afternoon Service at Mellstock': "The poem, seemingly thrown-off, is precise in its term of reference. The musical point is a clear one: 'Cambridge New', the tune mentioned, was used at Stinsford for the Tate and Brady version of Psalm 78, which discusses a man's responsibility for passing his faith on to the next generation." Unfortunately, there is no reference given for this point in the 'Companion,' although it may possibly be included in Hand's book on 'Thomas Hardy' in the Writers in their Times series (Palgrave Macmillan, 1995), where a similar point is made.Michael Day(University of Bath)

Question 14:

I am familiar with D H Lawrence's essays on Hardy's work, but does anyone know if Hardy wrote anything on Lawrence? Were any of Hardy's opinions recorded on any of Lawrences work or on Lawrence himself? With many thanks, Nikki


Awaiting an Answer

Question 15:

Phillip Mallett, Editor, THS journals asks: Serendipity, and the need to check a reference to Mary Channing, the poor woman part-strangled and then burnt at the stake in Maumbury Rings in 1705, and of course a figure who fascinated Hardy, led me to the website maintained by Michael Russell, On Line Parish Clerk for the Parishes of Dorchester and Fordington. One of many intriguing items there concerns Ann Winzer, nee Keats, who is described on her tombstone in the churchyard at Piddlehinton as a 'heroine' of Waterloo, where she aided and attended the sick. She died in 1873, having moved from Fordington to Piddlehinton in 1861, but I don't recall hearing of her in connection with Hardy, who must surely have met and talked with her. William Keates or Keats, the original of Tranter Dewy in 'Under the Greenwood Tree', lived in one half of the cottage next door to the Hardy family, with Hardy's Uncle James in the other half; William's brother Charles Keats lived just along from them. Was Ann Winzer related to a branch of this family? It seems odd that if Hardy did meet Ann through what may have been her relations in Bockhampton, he left no mention of doing so. If anyone has more information, or could send a photo of her gravestone for the 'Journal', it would be good to find out what links, if any, Hardy had with her.


Patrick Tolfree says: I can only add to the mystery by pointing out that in the 'Life' Hardy describes the harvest-supper to which, aged about nine, he went, accompanied by 'a young woman of the village'. In the original version of the 'Life' the young woman is not named, but in the 1984 version, edited by Michael Millgate, she is identified in the index as Charlotte Keats, daughter of William Keats, who, as you say, lived next door to the Hardy's in Higher Bockhampton. She was apparently aged 16 in 1951, therefore born in 1835. This makes it even stranger that Hardy makes no reference to Ann anywhere.

Question 16:

Jane Dey asks: I understand that Thomas Hardy's pen is available to see at the Dorset County Museum. Can anyone tell me what type of pen he used? I hope to visit the museum soon but I am interested to know more about pens of this period i.e.their design and use. Would it have been possible for a pen from the 1890s to still be used into the 1950s? I am writing a story for an Open University course. Any information would be helpful until I can get to the museum, please.


Awaiting an Answer

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