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This illustrated account of Thomas Hardy's life accompanies a British Library exhibition of the same title celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth. The success of "Under the Greenwood Tree" in 1872 encouraged Hardy to abandon his first career as an architect for full-time writing, and over the next quarter-century he went on to create some of the best-known classic novels in English literature. Distressed and disillusioned by the controversy surrounding his last novel, "Jude the Obscure", he returned to his first love, poetry, and, by the time of his death in 1928 he was renowned as one of the most distinguished literary figures of the 19th and 20th centuries. Here, Elizabeth James traces the development and landmarks of Hardy's long career, discussing the many facets of his talent as they are reflected in his literary works. The illustrations are drawn from autograph manuscripts of Hardy's works, letters to his publisher and signed first editions in the Library's collections, as well as drawings, architectural plans and portraits.