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5 Must-Read Thomas Hardy Books: Where to Start

We recommend starting with one of these five great books.

5 Must-Read Thomas Hardy Books Where to Start Reading

If you’re a fan of classical English literature, then Thomas Hardy is one author you should definitely read.  His novels are beautifully written and rich in detail.  However, if you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry – we’re here to help.  In this article, we’ll discuss Hardy’s life and work and then give you a list of his best books that you should read right now.

Who is Thomas Hardy?

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in Higher Bockhampton, Dorset, England.  He is one of the most well-known Victorian authors, and his novels often deal with rural life and love.  Hardy’s work was initially published anonymously, as he was worried about how the public would receive it.  However, after the success of his novel, “Far from the Madding Crowd,” he decided to publish under his own name.

Hardy’s novels often end tragically, which led some critics to label him a pessimist.  However, Hardy said that he saw himself as a realist rather than a pessimist, as he believed that life was full of good and bad experiences.  Regardless of how you label him, there’s no denying that Hardy is a master of the English language, and his novels are definitely worth reading.

What is Thomas Hardy best known for?

Thomas Hardy is best known for his novels and poetry. His works often explore themes of love, faith, and the human condition. Hardy’s novels often end tragically, which led some critics to label him a pessimist. However, Hardy said that he saw himself as a realist rather than a pessimist, as he believed that life was full of good and bad experiences.  He also wrote stories about Victorian England’s rural life, which helped define the time period.  Hardy’s poems are filled with symbolism and metaphors, making them a pleasure to read.

What is Thomas Hardy’s style of writing?

Thomas Hardy’s writing style is characterized by his use of vivid imagery and symbolism.  He often wrote in a lyrical style that was unique to him, making it easy to identify his works.  His novels often explore themes of love, faith, and the human condition.  They are also rich in detail and evocative language, creating an atmosphere of tragedy or joy.  Hardy also wrote stories about Victorian England’s rural life, which helped define the time period.

What is considered Thomas Hardy’s most popular book?

Hands down, Thomas Hardy’s most popular book is Far from the Madding Crowd.  This novel was first published anonymously in 1874 and told the story of a young woman who must make difficult choices between three suitors.  The book became extremely popular and has since been adapted into films, television series, and even an opera.

What is considered Thomas Hardy’s best book?

Thomas Hardy’s best book is “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.” This novel tells the story of Tess, a young woman from a low-income family who is taken advantage of by an aristocrat.  The book explores themes like love, class, and morality in Victorian England.  It is also one of Hardy’s most popular works and has been adapted into movies and television shows.

Which of Hardy’s novels is regarded as his tragic masterpiece?

Thomas Hardy’s tragic masterpiece is considered to be “Jude the Obscure.” This novel tells the story of Jude Fawley, an ambitious young man from a poor background who attempts to better himself by studying at university.  However, his plans are thwarted by society, and he is forced into a life of poverty and hardship.  The novel is full of tragedy and is one of Hardy’s most acclaimed works.

Book List: 5 Must-Read Books by Thomas Hardy Where to Start Reading

The 5 Must-Read Books by Thomas Hardy

Now that you know a bit about Thomas Hardy and his work let’s look at some of his must-read books.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

“Far from the Madding Crowd” is Hardy’s fourth novel and his first major literary success.  It was first published anonymously and serially in 1874 and published in book form under Hardy’s name the same year.  The story follows the life of Bathsheba Everdene, a beautiful and independent woman who inherits a farm in rural England.  We also meet her three suitors and see her contrasting relationship with each of them.  The novel follows her as she tries to make the farm a success and also deals with themes of love, betrayal, and morality.  “Far from the Madding Crowd” is considered one of Hardy’s best novels, and it’s definitely a great place to start if you’re new to his work.

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The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

“The Return of the Native” was first published in 1878 and set in Egdon Heath, a fictional area in England.  The story follows the life of Clym Yeobright, who returns to his native village after living in Paris for several years.  Clym finds that his village has changed greatly since he left, and he struggles to find his place in the community.  In addition, the novel follows other characters who all live on or near the heath and deals with themes of love, isolation,  fate, and morality.  “The Return of the Native” is considered one of Hardy’s dark and pessimistic novels, but it’s definitely worth reading.

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

“Tess of the d’Urbervilles” was first published in 1891 and is one of Hardy’s best-known works.  It tells the story of Tess Durbeyfield, a poor girl from a rural village who is sent to live with her wealthy relatives, the d’Urbervilles.  However, Tess’s life is turned upside down when she meets Alec d’Urberville, a man who will profoundly impact her life.  The novel follows Tess as she tries to make a new life for herself and deals with themes of love, betrayal, morality, social class, sexuality, and religion.  “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” is considered Hardy’s masterwork, and it’s definitely worth reading.

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Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

“Jude the Obscure” was first published in 1895, and it’s Hardy’s last work of fiction and one of his most controversial works.  It tells the story of Jude Fawley, a working-class man from a rural village who dreams of becoming a scholar at Oxford University.  However, Jude’s plans are derailed when he meets Arabella Donn.  Jude tries to make something of himself and falls in love with Sue Bridehead. Sue is unable to bear living with her husband Phillotson and moves in with Jude.  Society’s disapproval and poverty take weight on them, and tragedy strikes.  The novel deals with themes of love, morality, religion, social class, and education.  “Jude the Obscure” was poorly received and heavily criticized when it was first published, and while dark and pessimistic, it’s now considered one of Hardy’s best novels.

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The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

“The Mayor of Casterbridge” was first published in 1886, and it’s set in the fictional town of Casterbridge.  The story follows the life of Michael Henchard, a man who sells his wife and daughter at a fair. Henchard regrets his decision and tries to find them, but he is unsuccessful.   He later becomes the mayor of Casterbridge and tries to make a new life for himself.  However, his past catches up with him, and he must face the consequences of his actions.  The novel deals with themes of love, morality, fate, and redemption.  “The Mayor of Casterbridge” is considered one of Hardy’s best novels, and it’s definitely worth reading.

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So there you have it – our list of Thomas Hardy’s best books you should read right now.  If you’re a fan of classical English literature, then these are definitely some novels that you should add to your reading list.

We hope you find these recommendations helpful and that they help you get started on your journey into the world of Thomas Hardy.  Happy reading!

What do you think about the books on this list?

Have you read any books by Thomas Hardy?  Are any of these books or his other works on your TBR?   What book by Thomas Hardy is your favorite?  What books would you add to this list?  Let us know in the comments below.

Book List: 5 Must-Read Books by Thomas Hardy Where to Start Reading

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