Thomas Hardy, Epistolarian



Mr John Knightley and Miss Jane Fairfax are exchanging views on the curse or the financial benefits of writing letters. Thomas Hardy was familiar with both the aspects of epistolary activity mentioned in this conversation and, indeed, with a third, the ‘Lettres galantes, I do not mean love letters, to fine women’, which Lord Chesterfield commended in a letter to his godson, Philip Stanhope, in 1768.1


Modern Invention Time Literary Supplement Love Letter Dialect Word Obiter Dictum 
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  1. 1.
    Quoted in Felix Pryor (ed.), The Faber Book of Letters (London: Faber and Faber, 1988) p. 71.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Quotations from Hardy’s letters are taken from The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy, ed. Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate, 7 volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978–88), citing volume and page.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets, ed. George Birkbeck Hill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905) vol. III, pp. 206–7.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    James Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. R. W. Chapman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970) pp. 1443–4.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Thomas Hardy, The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy, ed. Michael Millgate (London: Macmillan, 1984) p. 458, hereafter referred to as Life with page number.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982) pp. 214–16.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    See F. B. Smith, ‘The Russian Influenza in the United Kingdom, 1889–1894’, Social History of Medicine, 8:1 (1995) 55–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 9.
    The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy, ed. James Gibson (London: Macmillan, 1976) p. 560.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    J. I. M. Stewart, reviewing vol. III of the Collected Letters in the Times Literary Supplement, 10 September 1982, p. 968.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Dennis Taylor, Hardy’s Literary Language and Victorian Philology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993) p. 48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 13.
    Ralph W. V. Elliott, Thomas Hardy’s English (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984) p. 209.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    See Ralph W. V. Elliott, ‘Hardy’s One-Plane Dictionary’, Thomas Hardy Journal, 4:3 (1988) 29–48.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    See Lovat Dickson, H. G. Wells: His Turbulent Life and Times (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972) p. 195.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    A Thomas Hardy Dictionary, ed. Mamoru Osawa and others. The Thomas Hardy Society of Japan (Tokyo: Meicho-Fukyu-Kai, 1984).Google Scholar

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© Ralph W. V. Elliott 1998

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