Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisited

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Michael Millgate, Thomas Hardy: A Biography Revisited (Oxford University Press 2004), 625pp. Cloth. £30. ISBN 0-19-927565-3.

Michael Millgate, until recently University Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Toronto, is one of the outstanding Hardy scholars of his generation. When Thomas Hardy: A Biography (1982) was published it was hailed as the most thorough and balanced biography to have appeared since the writer's death. The Times Literary Supplement commented that it was 'by far the most detailed and comprehensive account of Hardy's personal and literary life now available'. The present volume represents a revision and expansion of the earlier book and incorporates much that has been learned about Hardy in the last twenty years.

Michael Millgate is in an ideal position to comment on the life and works of Hardy. His Thomas Hardy: His Career as a Novelist (1971) provided a survey of the writing and publication of the novels and since then he has undertaken the daunting task of editing the letters of Hardy, as well as those of both his wives, and the 'Life' - supposedly written by Florence but largely drafted by Hardy himself. Millgate has also been able to access a vast amount of research and make use of the various scholarly editions of the novels and poems.

Hardy presents a daunting task for any biographer. …