Discover the life and work of Dorset’s famous novelist and poet Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) and dive into key themes of his personal and professional life.
A recreation of Hardy’s study includes his desk and personal belongings from his home at Max Gate on Dorchester’s outskirts. The Hardy’s Life room has childhood toys, family portraits, musical instruments – and music from the Hardy family’s music books. Hardy’s Writing features original manuscripts and touchscreens for browsing digital manuscripts and personal letters. In Hardy’s Wessex, you can explore his inspirations for locations on a touchscreen map, and see paintings that bring them alive.
Many objects on display are from the UNESCO-inscribed Thomas Hardy Memorial collection, gifted to the Museum in 1937.
The Story Space
A quiet area in this gallery, where you can discover other Dorset writers.
Thomas Hardy’s scarf
This scarf is one of the few pieces of Hardy’s clothing that survive. When Hardy died, his wife Florence asked their gardener Bertie Stephens to…
Katharine Hardy’s red dress
Hardy’s younger sister Katharine (1856-1940) was a schoolteacher and had this dress made in Dorchester. With its luxurious red silk and bustle, it is reminiscent…
Late 19th century
Watercolours of Dorset landscapes
Henry Joseph Moule The first curator of Dorset Museum and a friend of Thomas Hardy, Henry Moule regularly went out into the countryside surrounding Dorchester…
Maquette of the Statue of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) at the Top ‘o Town
Thomas Hardy Eric Kennington Bronze…
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Maggie Richardson Mitchell Bronze…
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Reginald Grenville Eves Oil on canvas…
After Hardy’s first wife Emma died in 1912, Hardy kept his desk calendar set to the date he met her – ‘That never to be…
Thomas Hardy’s writing pens
Hardy wrote Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure with these pens, dipping the nibs repeatedly into the inkwell on his desk. He engraved…
Original manuscript of The Woodlanders
The Woodlanders is the first novel Hardy worked on in his new study at Max Gate and was partly inspired by the village of Melbury…
Original manuscript of Under the Greenwood Tree
Hardy wrote Under the Greenwood Tree in 1871 when he was living at Weymouth and Higher Bockhampton. He set the story in Mellstock, a village…
Juno I watercolour by Thomas Hardy
Thomas painted his pet rabbit when he was 16. He was interested in art and nature, knew many plants and animals by their country names…
Childhood mug belonging to Thomas Hardy
The mug Hardy drank from as a boy shows pictures of rural workers – a shepherd and shepherdess.