In June 1883, Thomas Hardy, then aged forty-three, returned to Dorchester in his
native county of Dorsetshire, together with his wife Emma, in order to find a
Unable to find a property which suited himself and Emma, Hardy decided to
build one, on a plot of land purchased from the estate of The Duchy of Cornwall
and situated a mile or so to the east of Dorchester on the road to Wareham.
house he would write some of his greatest works, including five novels, three
collections of short stories, eight collections of poetry, an epic drama, and a play
in verse. He would travel with Emma to the Continent and to Ireland, he would
be accepted by the highest echelons of London society and into their innermost
circles and meet not only the aristocracy, but also the leading literati of the day.
Sadly however all was not well in Hardy’s ‘Garden of Eden’ as his marriage
to Emma, gradually disintegrated into a meaningless charade. This had profound
implications both for his social life, writing, and mental well-being, his overwhelming
melancholy being only partially redeemed by his later marriage to Florence
The purpose of this book is to pierce the veil of secrecy which Hardy deliberately
drew over his life; to decipher the coded messages which his writings contain;
to find out why his life was so filled with anguish, an anguish which led to
the creation, by him, of some of the finest novels and poems in the English language.
Only then is it possible to discover the real Thomas Hardy whose life was
played out in the self-designed setting of Max Gate.
Andrew Norman was born in Newbury, Berkshire, UK in 1943. Having been educated at
Thornhill High School, Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and St Edmund Hall, Oxford,
he qualified in medicine at the Radcliffe Infirmary. He has two children Bridget and Thomas, by
his first wife.
From 1972-83, Andrew worked as a general practitioner in Poole, Dorset, before a spinal injury
cut short his medical career. He is now an established writer whose published works include
biographies of Thomas Hardy, T.E. Lawrence, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton, Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur Pearson, Adolf Hitler, and Robert Mugabe. Andrew was remarried
to Rachel in 2005.
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 267 5, hardback, 210x148mm, 144 pages. Published April 2016.