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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin, read by Jill Balcon and David Shaw-Parker.

Paradox ruled Thomas Hardy's life. His birth was almost his death; he became one of the great Victorian novelists and reinvented himself as one of the 20th-century's greatest poets; he was an unhappy husband and a desolate widower; and he wrote bitter attacks on the English class system yet prized the friendship of aristocrats.

In the hands of Whitbread Award-winning biographer Claire Tomalin, author of the best-selling books Charles Dickens: A Life and The Invisible Woman, Thomas Hardy the novelist, poet, neglectful husband and mourning lover all come vividly alive. 

©2007 Claire Tomalin (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"An extraordinary story, beautifully told. Tomalin is the most empathetic of biographers." (Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday)

"Another triumph for a biographer who goes from strength to strength." (Melvyn Bragg, Guardian, Books of the Year)

"Tomalin provides an object lesson in how to write a life." (Economist)

What listeners say about Thomas Hardy

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Great Novelist But A Boring Life

I have to disagree with the majority of reviewers on this one. However prolific a biographer Tomalin is, Hardy lived a fairy average, dull, life, and this biography failed to satisfy my curiosity about Hardy's subjectivity and his philosophy of writing. I listened to and enjoyed her biographies of Dickens and Bronte, but Hardy and his satellites came across dry, middle-class, windbags. Having said this, its the only Hardy biography on audible, so half an eye is better than no eye.

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  • Alan
  • 07-17-20

Excellent

A wonderful biography of an extraordinary writer. As always, Claire Tomalin is both a lucid and sensitive narrator of the life, and an insightful and passionate interpreter of the work. This will send many readers back to the great novels and collections of poetry. A shame we don't have an unabridged reading, but this is a well-edited and very entertaining abridgement.

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  • Chris
  • 08-17-19

Excellent biography

Very much enjoyed reading this excellent biography. Before reading I didn’t know much about Hardy and had only read one of his novels (now planning to read more ...). This was a good introduction. Only downside is that it had the feel of being extensively abridged - why not just give us the full version? There was a lot of focus on his first wife as compared with other influences on his work - not sure if that was down to the author or the abridging for audio but it did feel a little excessive at times

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  • Tanya Hitchcock
  • 07-16-19

Beautifully written

This is a beautifully written, well-rounded account of Thomas Hardy’s life. The chronological events are skilfully interwoven with his often troubled and conflicted inner world. Excerpts from his poetry embellish the work, reminding us of the genius of one of our greatest writers.

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  • Christine lee
  • 09-20-18

Plese let me introduce you to Claire Tomalin

After reading Tomalin's fabulous Memoir ( and recommending it) I wanted to read a biography from her
so chose Hardy as I know/knew so little about him except for having loved the movies made of his novels.
What a shame I have waited so long - I am going to move right on to "Tess"
and "Return of the Native" and probably everything I can that Hardy wrote. A late life discovery to
enhance my days. Wonderful. Wonderful.

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  • Seam
  • 12-31-21

Everything you need to know about Hardy

An engrossing account that vividly relates the novels and poems to Hardy's inner life, his childhood, the events of his era, and his relationship with his first wife Emma.

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  • A L Bishop
  • 04-11-21

Fascinating and beautifully read

A wonderful account of Hardy's life, putting his works into the context of his life and the times. Beautifully read and hugely engaging.