Thomas Hardy 01 February Talk is ON

Thomas Hardy fan and all-round literary expert Alban O’Brien will be at Gold Hill Museum at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday 01 February to talk about “Thomas Hardy: the Novels, the Novelist and North Dorset.” Alban is a guide at Hardy’s Cottage and a member of the New Hardy Players. He is in demand as a leader of literature-themed tours, and some of his entertaining presentations on a range of literary figures can be found on YouTube.

Old Grove Place the home of Mr Phillotson the schoolmaster and his unhappy wife Sue Bridehead in Jude the Obscure

A number of thinly-disguised Shaftesbury locations feature in “Jude the Obscure”, Hardy’s last novel published in 1895. “Shaston”, says Hardy, “was remarkable for three consolations to man. It was a place where the churchyard lay nearer to heaven than the church steeple, where beer was more plentiful than water, and where there were more wanton women than honest wives and maids.” The two central characters are both trapped in loveless marriages, and Jude, an unenthusiastic stone mason, has been denied academic opportunity at Christminster (Oxford). Eventually they decide to run away together, though not to a life of happiness. The novel’s treatment of sex, marriage and the Church stirred up a hornet’s nest in late-Victorian Britain. The Bishop of Wakefield allegedly burned his copy, and booksellers sold it in discreet brown paper bags. It did sell well – 20,000 copies in England in the first three months. Hardy, however, published no new fiction, only poetry, until his death in 1928.

Ox House Bimport Shaftesbury. Home of Sue Bridehead, unhappily married to schoolmaster Mr Phillotson in Hardy’s Jude the Obscure

Please don’t attend this talk if you have reason to believe that you may have Covid or recently been exposed to the virus. The Garden Room will be well ventilated and the seats will be more spaced out than they used to be, with an inevitable reduction in capacity. S&DHS members will have until 2.20p.m. to claim a seat.

Details of our remaining monthly lectures can be found by clicking here