About

The Letters

In 1840, the year that the poet and novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was born, the Uniform Penny Post set in train a communications revolution. Letters, a vital form of communication for the Victorians, could now be sent for one penny between any two places in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland irrespective of distance.

Hardy received thousands of letters, not only from the United Kingdom but from all round the world, including Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), Syria, Tasmania and the USA, from writers (including Grant Allen, J.M. Barrie, Browning, Havelock Ellis, George Egerton, Florence Henniker, Gissing, Kipling, T.E. Lawrence, Amy Levy, Meredith, Charlotte Mew, Ezra Pound, Siegfried Sassoon, Swinburne, Wells, Woolf), artists and illustrators (including Augustus John, George Du Maurier, Helen Paterson), musicians (including Elgar and Holst) and actors, as well as charitable and political organisations, friends and fans.

The letters reveal Hardy’s place in national and international conversations and networks, engaged in intellectual and political debate, and discussion of subjects ranging from science and war to education, feminism and suffrage. They also tell us more about ways in which writers were seen in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and shed new light on the practice of letter writing across class, gender, and geographical boundaries.

The Website

Hardy’s Correspondents, a collaborative project between the University of Exeter and Dorset Museum, aims to make available for the first time over 5000 letters housed at Dorset Museum. These letters form part of Dorset Museum’s Thomas Hardy Memorial Collection, the largest Hardy collection in the world, recently selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme.

This website, Phase One of the Hardy’s Correspondents project, brings to the public images and fully annotated transcriptions of 100 letters to Hardy. These 100 letters, from friends, family, fans, readers and publishers, on subjects ranging from writing, wife sales, Wessex, and the welfare of animals, were transcribed and encoded in conjunction with the Hardy and Heritage collaborative PhD project between the University of Exeter and Dorset County Museum.

For the few letters by Thomas Hardy that are included in Phase One, full transcripts can be found in The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Eds. Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate. 7 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978-1988. Print and Web. For links within the people records, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is referenced for further information on UK subjects. We are also pleased to reference Wikipedia as a democratic, open access source which bridges scholarly and more informal learning, providing access to checkable citations and sources.

How to Cite

Suggested citation for the resource as a whole, using MLA guidelines:

Angear, Helen, and Angelique Richardson, editors. Hardy’s Correspondents, Phase One, University of Exeter, hardycorrespondents.exeter.ac.uk

Suggested citation for an individual letter, using MLA guidelines:

Angear, Helen, and Angelique Richardson, editors. “Horace Moule to Thomas Hardy, 2nd July 1863.” Hardy’s Correspondents, Phase One, University of Exeter, hardycorrespondents.exeter.ac.uk

The Team

Professor Angelique Richardson, Project Lead.

Dr Helen Angear, Hardy and Heritage AHRC collaborative doctoral award (CDA) and postdoctoral award holder.

Dr Jon Murden, Director of Dorset Museum.

Dr Lizzy Williamson, Digital Humanities Lead.

Gary Stringer, Richard Holding, Eva Bodenschatz, Graham Fereday, Hannah Petrie and Charlotte Tupman, Digital Humanities Team, University of Exeter.

We would also like to thank Phillip Mallett, University of St Andrews; Benedict Morrison, University of Exeter; Jamie Nathaniel Carne Whyte; Laura Cox, Beth Mills and Sophie Welsh, AHRC South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership Researchers; Darren Hodge; Helen Gibson and Andrew Leah, Dorset Museum; and Paul McGann.

Copyright and Licensing

The images are copyright of Dorset Museum. Please contact the Museum if you would like to reuse any of the letter images.

Creative Commons Licence
The letter transcripts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This means that you can use these transcripts providing you acknowledge the Hardy's Correspondents project.

Image Credits

Background

Dorset Museum's Thomas Hardy Archive, courtesy of Dorset Museum © 2019.

Homepage

Letters: Dorset Museum's Thomas Hardy Archive, courtesy of Dorset Museum © 2019.

People: Thomas Hardy sees flying matinee of 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' at Weymouth by Central News Ltd © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Places: Stanford's library map of the world on Mercator's projection published 1898 by Edward Stanford, London.

Works: Dorset Museum's Thomas Hardy Archive, courtesy of Dorset Museum / Mark North © 2019.

Letters

Dorset Museum's Thomas Hardy Archive, courtesy of Dorset Museum © 2019.

Issues and Errors

If you notice any errors or technical issues with this Phase One pilot project, please let us know at digitalhumanities[at]exeter.ac.uk.