Read his poem "The Man He Killed"
Career: Poet, novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, and architect
Hardy was born in 1840 and raised in the region of Dorsetshire, England, the basis for the Wessex countryside that would later appear in his fiction and poetry. He attended a local school until he was sixteen, when his mother paid a substantial amount of money for him to be apprenticed to an architect in Dorchester. In 1862 he moved to London, where he worked as an architect, and remained there for a period of five years. Between 1865 and 1867 Hardy wrote many poems, none of which were published. In 1867 he returned to Dorchester and, while continuing to work in architecture, began to write novels in his spare time. Hardy became convinced that if he was to make a living writing, he would have to do so as a novelist. Drawing on the way of life he absorbed in Dorsetshire as a youth and the wide range of English writers with which he was familiar, Hardy spent nearly thirty years as a novelist before devoting himself to poetry. In 1874 Hardy married Emma Lavinia Gifford, who would become the subject of many of his poems. They spent several years in happiness until the 1880s, when marital troubles began to shake the closeness of their union.
Hardy's first book of verse was published in 1898, when he was fifty-eight years old and had achieved a large degree of success as a novelist. Although his verse was not nearly as successful as his novels, Hardy continued to focus on his poetry and published seven more books of verse before his death, developing his confidence and technical competence. With the composition of The Dynasts: A Drama of the Napoleonic Wars (1904-08), an epic historical drama written in verse, Hardy was hailed as a major poet. He was praised as a master of his craft, and his writing was admired for its great emotional force and techical skill. Hardy continued to write until just before his death in 1928. Despite his wish to be buried with his family, influential sentiment for his burial in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey instigated a severe compromise: the removal of his heart, which was buried in Dorchester, and the cremation of his body, which was interred in the Abbey.
Source: Exploring Poetry, Gale.