June 2 – 8, 2013
For more information on this trip please contact Literary Traveler
Tess of the D’Urbervilles, regarded as Hardy’s finest novel, explores these mysteries in great depth. A brilliant tale of seduction, love, betrayal, and murder, the novel attracted criticism for its sympathetic portrayal of a “fallen woman” and was initially refused publication. Its subtitle, A Pure Woman: Faithfully Presented, was intended to raise the eyebrows of the Victorian middle-classes. Most of the landscapes and buildings that Hardy drew on for this novel remain intact, despite Hardy’s fear that the incursions of the Industrial Revolution would destroy them.
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), one of the world’s greatest writers, was born and lived most of his life in the county of Dorset, a rural world of astonishing beauty. Dorset offered Thomas Hardy the contrasting towns of Dorchester (Roman and intimate) and Weymouth (Georgian and glamorous); the dairying river valleys; Egdon Heath, the ‘wild regions of obscurity’ of his childhood; and many village downland and woodland communities. His works fill this natural Eden with characters who challenge our notions of human relationships: to nature, to a spiritual world, and, especially, to each other. Is there a God, or does relentless Nature determine our actions? Are relations between men and women social events governed by a class system, or are they blind sexuality?
We arrive in London, where we will gather for a welcoming dinner to begin our trip together.
Today we travel by train to Dorchester, the town Hardy called Casterbridge. We’ll begin with the large Hardy exhibit at the Dorchester Museum, located close by our hotel. Also within close walking distance are many of the places – such as the Hangman’s Cottage, the overgrown Roman amphitheatre, and the Market Square – that Hardy used in his writing.
We will begin the day with a group discussion of the readings before heading out to see the sights. One of today’s highlights will be our visit to Max Gate, the Victorian villa Hardy designed and built for himself in 1885, and where Tess was written.
We will be out and about over the next couple of days to see important landmarks such as the modest cottage that was Hardy’s birthplace. We can also easily see the school he attended and make the short walk through spectacular scenery – unchanged since Hardy’s time – along the Frome River to Stinsford Church, where Hardy’s parents are buried, and Hardy’s heart is buried in his first wife’s coffin. This little church inspired many scenes in his writing.
Today, after a morning of further exploration into Hardy’s writing, we may visit Bere Regis to tour St. John the Baptist Church, one of the many places that remains today just as Hardy described.
During our last day in Dorchester, we can stroll around to see whatever we didn’t have time for earlier, before boarding our train back to London. Tonight we have our celebratory closing dinner.
After saying our goodbyes, we catch our flights home.
*This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage
of local events
The first trip Canadian biographer Elspeth Cameron took after retiring from university teaching was a Thomas Hardy pilgrimage. Since she read The Mayor of Casterbridge in high school, Hardy has been her favorite author.
Approx. CDN$3295 per person