Thomas Hardy Collection

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was the son of a builder from Dorchester, England. He went to school for architecture. He worked as an architect in addition to writing poetry until 1874, when he became a full time writer, publishing the novel Far From the Madding Crowd. Other well known works include The Return of the Native, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and The Dynasts, a three-volume epic poem about the Napoleonic Wars. He returned to exclusively publishing poetry and short stories after 1895, when his novel Jude the Obscure met with harsh criticism. After Hardy’s death, his executors burnt many of his letters and notebooks, however our collection includes over 400 letters written by Hardy and his first and second wives, Emma and Florence.

The Thomas Hardy Society web site contains a biographical sketch.

TH in chair - from CLQ Nov 1950

1927 photograph of Thomas Hardy and his cat at Max Gate, seated in the chair that now graces our main reading room.


The Hardy Collection at Colby contains first editions, books about Hardy and volumes from his personal library, manuscripts, numerous first appearances from periodicals, sheet music, and artifacts, including a chair from his study at Max Gate. Our Hardy Collection is one of the largest collections of Hardy materials in the United States.

Read more details about the Hardy Collection online.


Colby Library Associates – primary donor

Carl Jefferson Weber – primary donor

Patrick Ferry

Waldo Peirce