I feel I have a particular affinity for the Dorset poet and novelist Thomas Hardy, in that my own ‘Norman’ ancestors lived at Fordington, Dorchester and were baptised by the Reverend Henry Moule whose son, Horace was Hardy’s dearest friend. However, the fact that Hardy was such a private person makes any investigation of his personal life more challenging than otherwise would be the case.
Nevertheless, many first-hand accounts of his life exist. For example, by his household staff and in particular, house parlourmaid, Nellie Titterington and gardener, Bertie Stephens and also by some of his close literary friends such as Henry Newbolt, W. B. Yeats, and T. E. Lawrence. Finally, I was privileged to meet the very last surviving acquaintance of Hardy, the delightful Norrie Woodhall, who distinctly remembered Hardy from her childhood days.