Thomas Hardy


'Here lies the heart of Thomas Hardy, O.M.'


Thomas Hardy's heart is buried in St. Michael's churchyard, Stinsford, Dorset, England. (Stinsford appears in his novels and poems under the fictional name of Mellstock.)

 Grave of Thomas Hardy
Photographs by permission of Robert Seitz

 It was Hardy's wish that he be buried at Stinsford.  However, after his death, the authorities at Westminster Abbey suggested he be buried in 'Poets' Corner'. Faced with this dilemma, his second wife, Florence decided that Hardy's heart should be buried at Stinsford and that his ashes be interred in the Abbey.  (See map...ref no. 12) There is also a macabre twist to the story for, when the local doctor was removing Hardy's heart he left the room momentarily and re-entered to find his cat eating it. As a result, the cat was killed and its body was placed into the grave too.

Cecil Day-Lewis is also buried near to Hardy at Stinsford. (Rudyard Kipling was a pall-bearer at Hardy's funeral.)


Hardy is perhaps better known as a novelist but in 1895, following bad reviews of Jude the Obscure, he abandoned his successful career and returned to his first love poetry. He continued writing poetry up until his death in 1928, with a particularly prolific period following the death of his first wife in 1912.

Hardy published eight volumes of poetry containing over 900 poems. He experimented with meter and stanza forms producing a huge variety of verse. He also used colloquial language - partly inspired by fellow Dorset poet William Barnes. Hardy's main subject matter was what he referred to as the: 'monotonous moils of strained, hard-run humanity'.

Hardy's poetry had a major impact upon the work of many 20th century poets - most notably Philip Larkin. In fact, Larkin famously remarked that it was reading Hardy that enabled him to break free from Yeats' shadow.

See also dimeter.

When the present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay,
  And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings,  
Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say,
  'He was a man who used to notice such things'?

From Afterwards (complete poem)

Read more of Hardy's poetry

Thomas Hardy Society






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