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Thomas Hardy was born on 2 June 1840. His father was a stonemason. He was brought up near Dorchester and trained as an architect. In 1868 his work took him to St Juliot's church in Cornwall where he met his wife-to-be, Emma. His first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady, was rejected by publishers but Desperate Remedies was published in 1871 and this was rapidly followed by Under the Greenwood Tree (1872), A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873) and Far from the Madding Crowd (1874). He also wrote many other novels, poems and short stories. Tess of the D'Urbervilles was published in 1891. His final novel was Jude the Obscure (1895). Hardy was awarded the Order of Merit in 1920 and the gold medal of the Royal Society of Literature in 1912. His wife died in 1912 and he later married his secretary. Thomas Hardy died 11 January 1928.
"[Tess of the D'Urbervilles is] Hardy's finest, most complex and most notorious novel . . . The novel is not a mere plea for compassion for the eternal victim, though that is the banner it flies. It also involves a profound questioning of contemporary morality." -from the Introduction by Patricia Ingham