Thomas Hardy was born June 2, 1840, in Dorsetshire, England. After leaving school in 1856, Hardy trained as an architect, working in Dorset and London for nearly a decade before turning to writing as a career. He started writing poetry and eventually tried his hand at novels, though his first attempts were rejected by publishers. In 1871, he anonymously published Desperate Remedies, which was met with lackluster reviews. In 1872, Hardy wrote Under the Greenwood Tree, the first of his novels to be set in Wessex, a fictitious county based on Dorset. In 1874, he published Far from the Madding Crowd, which saw moderate success, enough for Hardy to concentrate on writing full-time.
From the late 1870s to the mid-1880s, Hardy wrote and published several more novels, including The Return of the Native (1878), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). Largely regarded as classics of literature today, at the time, Hardy’s work was sometimes criticized for being too tragic and pessimistic, often focusing on the darker side of the human condition. Because of his novels’ reception, Hardy became frustrated and decided to concentrate on poetry in the latter part of his career. He published Wessex Poems in 1898, followed by Poems of the Past and Present in 1901. He developed his own unique style of rhythm and conversational vernacular, impacting the techniques of poetic successors like Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas. Hardy died in 1928.