What were the major influences on Thomas Hardy's life and work?

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What becomes apparent from researching Thomas Hardy's life is the multitude of experiences and influences that may have had some bearing on how he wrote and the content of these works. Obviously, his early life in Dorset and the bearing upon which this had on his early works is apparent through vivid descriptions and the recounting of certain episodes - so much so that it is impossible to ignore the inspiration that he derived from …

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…for his novels. It is through Hardy's indulgent and addictive character that emerges the true face of the man responsible for such feats in modern literature (although he never actually won the Nobel Prize, once nominated) - a sensitive and aware man, paradoxically unsure of his placement in life but certain of the importance of his work. It is through these influences and loves that we now enjoy the wealth and variety of his legacy.