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Thomas Hardy is today recognised as second only to Shakespeare in the greatness of his achievement. Writer of fourteen published novels, two or three of them among the greatest in our language, of that remarkable Napoleonic epic, The Dynasts, of nearly eight books of verse containing some of the finest and most anthologised of all English poems, and a host of short stories, Hardy is a fascinating literary personality. James Gibson traces his life from his birth in a humble cottage in Dorset to his death and burial in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. We see Hardy in the first thirty years of his life determined to become a great writer and earnestly preparing himself for that career. For most of the next thirty years he wrote novels which slowly brought him fame and wealth, and then, returning to his first love, poetry, he achieved a similar success as a poet. He is shown to be a highly professional writer who drew largely upon his own personal experience and took great pride in his calling.