Become part of Thomas Hardy's story

by Wessex Museums Trust in Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom

We did it
On 3rd December 2021 we successfully raised £5,235 ( + est. £867.00 Gift Aid ) with 97 supporters in 35 days

Help us to bring rare treasures out of our museum stores for a special exhibition that gives personal insights into Thomas Hardy the man.

by Wessex Museums Trust in Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom

Thomas Hardy was one of the greatest English writers of the Victorian era – here’s your chance to become part of his story. Our blockbuster Hardy exhibition will run across our four museums in summer 2022 - Dorset Museum, Poole Museum, The Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Museum. It will be the largest collection of Hardy objects ever displayed to the public at one time.  

Bringing precious objects out of the dark

As part of the project, we have gathered together objects from our museum stores, many that have never before been on public display. These precious objects need specialist mounting and conservation so they can be enjoyed by current and future generations.

A treasure trove to tell Hardy's life stories

Our Hardy exhibition curator, Harriet Still, said: “Hardy found his inspiration in the landscapes and people of Wessex, but he was also passionate about issues such as women’s equality, Miniature painting, thought to be the only depiction of Hardy as a baby with his motheranimal welfare and the unfairness of the English class system. As part of the project, I was tasked with exploring museum stores and archives to find objects that gave insights into Hardy’s complex personality. It was a magical voyage of discovery and it will be wonderful to share this fascinating treasure trove with our visitors.”

Picture: Miniature painting, thought to be the only depiction of Hardy as a baby with his mother.

"I wholeheartedly support this project," patron Lord Fellowes

One of our patrons is Lord Julian Fellowes of West Stafford, DL, President of the Thomas Hardy Society. He said:

“I wholeheartedly support this project to conserve and display some fascinating objects from the Thomas Hardy collection – many of which h1636018820_julian_fellowes_photo_by_nick_briggs_cropped-3.jpgave remained unseen in museum stores for years. These personal items will help people come to know Hardy as a man, not just as a writer. His grandma’s kettle, for example, evokes an image of a young boy sitting by the fireside, listening to the wise old woman's stories; while the tombstone Hardy designed in later life for his beloved dog, Wessex, tells of his deep love for animals.

"By donating to this appeal, people can help to unlock stories of the man who loved Wessex and so beautifully captured its landscapes and people in his writing."  (Photo Nick Briggs)

"Please help us to make it happen," patron Tim Laycock

Another patron is renowned Dorset folk musician and artistic director of the New Hardy Players, Tim Laycock. He said:

"As a folk musi1635499091_tim-laycock_crop.jpgcian living and working in Dorset, my personal and performing lives have been hugely enriched by the writings and the music of Thomas Hardy and his family. I’m delighted to be a patron for this wonderful exhibition, which will cast new light on the great storyteller of Wessex, thrill confirmed admirers of his novels and poetry, and introduce thousands of people to the real and imagined worlds of Thomas Hardy. Please help us to make it happen!"

"A new and richly informed story of Hardy," patron Angelique Richardson

Professor of English at the University of Exeter, Angelique Richardson, is also a patron. As a Hardy scholar and historian of science, she said: 

1637681708_angelique_richardson_2.jpg"This project is vital in bringing to wide audiences little known and previously unexhibited objects from the UNESCO recognised Hardy collections as well as helping to conserve these items for posterity. We are at a crucial stage in fundraising for a project that will allow a new and richly informed story of Hardy to be told. Your donations will also support four internationally significant regional museums at a time when the heritage sector is facing unprecedented challenges.”

Examples of the rare treasures we want to display

These are just some of the objects that your donations will help us to include in the exhibition. Please note that these are available in our Adopt an Object reward, but limited to two funders per object, on a first come, first served basis:

Hardy’s first landscape sketch  - to be displayed at Wiltshire Museum

This landscape painting is Hardy's first sketch ‘from nature’. It shows a view which is a 15 minute walk from the cottage where he was born. Later in life, Hardy remembered the local natural spaces as his ‘playground’. 

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'The Trumpet-Major' notebook - to be displayed at Poole Museum

This fascinating1635523072_trumpet-major.png notebook is stuffed full of Hardy’s research for his Napoleonic-era novel, 'The Trumpet-Major'. It is his only notebook dedicated to a single novel. There are notes on historical figures, dates and detail, interspersed with small drawings by Hardy of clothing of the time. He compiled it from the British Library Collection (at that time part of the British Museum) while living in London.

Emma Hardy’s 'Some Recollections' - to be displayed at Poole Museum

Many people have speculated on Hardy’s sometimes difficult relationship with his wife Emma. This page is an extract from her memoirs, looking back to the simpler days, and the first moment that they met: "I was immediately arrested by his familiar appearance as if I had seen him in a dream". 

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Granny Hardy’s kettle - to be displayed at The Salisbury Museum

Hardy’s gra1635505025_dsc_0127_(crop).jpgndmother could remember all sorts of things to entertain the young Hardy, from the news arriving of Marie Antoinette’s execution to stories of maypole dancing on the village green. She would just put on the kettle, then they'd sit by the fireside and out the stories would flow…

Design for tombstone of Hardy's dog - to be displayed at Dorset Museum

1635508595_wessex_gravestone_(crop).jpgThis is the design Hardy drew for the tombstone of his dog, Wessex. Hardy and his second wife Florence doted on the dog, even though he was a nightmare! He was known to stand on the table when they were eating, trying to steal the food off their forks! He also nipped their visitors. The tombstone can still be seen in the pet cemetery at Hardy’s home, Max Gate, in Dorchester.

Portrait of Hardy and his mother - displayed at The Salisbury Museum

This portrait was in private ownership for decades until it was recently given to Dorset Museum. It is believed to be the only depiction of Thomas Hardy as a baby with his mother, and has never before been publicly displayed. (Pictured above.)

Print of 'Les Violettes' - to be displayed at Poole Museum

From a young age1637859431_hardy%E2%80%99s_print_of_%E2%80%98les_violettes%E2%80%99.jpg, Hardy was fascinated by Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Wars. Several of his novels, short stories and poems are set in this period, including a reworking of a Dorset legend that Napoleon himself landed at Lulworth in 1804 to scout out for the invasion. This rare print was owned by Hardy. When Napoleon went into exile in Elba, he supposedly said that he would return with the violets in spring. Look closely - can you make out the ‘hidden silhouettes’ of Napoleon, his wife and son?

Hardy's phrenology report - to be displayed at Wiltshire Museum

When Hardy was a young architect in London, he got this phrenology report done by a ‘doctor’ on the Strand.  Phrenology claimed to be able to assess personal attributes by measuring the client’s head. Hardy was obsessed with fate and what makes us act the way that we do.1637926758_hardy%E2%80%99s_phrenology_report_crop.png

Hardy's dog-handle walking stick - to be displayed at Dorset Museum 

Hardy was an animal lover from a young age. This beautifully carved walking stick features a little dog on the handle, patiently lying waiting for its1637928515_walking_stick_detail_crop.png walk. On its back are engraved Hardy’s initials - ‘T.H.’ As a writer, Hardy used his novels to create empathy with our furry friends. He also actively campaigned for animal welfare. In 1924, he celebrated the triumphs of the RSPCA on their centenary, with a limited edition poem called ‘Compassion: An Ode’. 1637928283_walking_stick_crop.jpg

Handwritten manuscript from 'Far from the Madding Crowd' - to be displayed at Dorset Museum 

This is a hand-written manuscript from one of Hardy's most popular novels, 'Far from the Madding Crowd'. It is the first draft of the scene where Bathsheba Everdene is celebrating a successful sheep shearing with her employees. She is torn between sitting beside her farm manager and ex-lover Gabriel Oak, and the wealthy but awkward Farmer Boldwood. 

Variously, Bathsheba’s farm has been seen to be based on the real-life Athelhampton House and Waterston Manor in Dorset. 

Become part of Hardy's story

Through our Crowdfunder appeal, we are aiming to raise £5,000 towards the specialist work needed to put on such an ambitious exhibition. By donating to the appeal, you’ll not only become part of this exciting project, but you’ll also have access to a range of unique rewards.

Thank you! The Wessex Museums' team

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Above: Robin Mackenzie's map of Wessex, especially created for the Hardy exhibition. Available as one of our unique Crowdfunder rewards.  

Below: Exclusive tote bag available as a reward, featuring a quotation from Thomas Hardy. The quote was selected by our curator, Harriet Still - because it is so relevant to the times we are living in today!

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Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£5 or more

Thank you from 'Thomas Hardy' and regular updates

You will receive an email containing a unique thank you from 'Thomas Hardy'! In addition, you will receive regular email updates about the exhibition.

£15 or more

Wessex map greetings card by Robin Mackenzie

A beautiful 7"x7" blank greetings card featuring the Wessex map which has been created especially for the exhibition by print artist Robin Mackenzie. You will also receive an email with a unique thank you video from 'Thomas Hardy', and regular email updates about the exhibition. This reward includes postage within UK only.

£25 or more

Exclusive tote bag with Hardy quote

Tote bag featuring a Hardy quote selected by Harriet Still, curator of the Hardy exhibition (see image on main page). This ethically-sourced 100% cotton canvas bag is being produced exclusively for the Crowdfunder campaign. The tote bag would make a unique Christmas gift for any Thomas Hardy fan. This reward includes postage within UK only.

£45 or more

Exclusive behind-the-scenes video and tote bag

Tote bag featuring a Hardy quote selected by Harriet Still, curator of the Hardy exhibition (see image on main page). The ethically-sourced 100% cotton canvas bag will make a unique Christmas present. Harriet will also give you a virtual behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Hardy collection, while she discusses her favourite Hardy objects with Dorset Museum's Collections Assistant, Kat Broomfield. This reward includes postage within UK only.

£60 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - Print of 'Les Violettes'

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy's closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£60 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - Hardy's phrenology report

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy's closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£60 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - Hardy's dog-handle walking stick

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy's closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£80 or more

Print ‘Map of Wessex’ by artist Robin Mackenzie

This beautiful screenprinted artwork has been created especially for the exhibition by artist Robin Mackenzie. Based on Hardy’s fictional map of Wessex, it includes the place names used by Hardy in his novels, the towns where our museums are located, and vignettes of well-known landscape features. The A2 print, unmounted and unframed, will be packaged in recyclable cellophane with a board backing. This reward includes postage within UK only.

£150 or more

Print 'Map of Wessex' and private view invitation

This beautiful screenprinted artwork has been created especially for the exhibition by artist Robin Mackenzie (see above reward ). In addition, you and your guest are invited to attend an exclusive private view of the exhibition at a museum of your choosing. (Exact dates to be confirmed, between 25-28 May 2022.)

£450 or more

0 of 5 claimed

VIP ‘Hardy in Wessex’ day-out for two people

Enjoy the landscape that inspired Thomas Hardy on a VIP day-out in beautiful Wessex. Choose between a Dorset or Wiltshire based tour. This reward includes a guidebook written by curator Harriet Still and entry to two museums for two people. Your name will appear on our list of high level donors. Finish your day with an afternoon tea at one of our museums. Please note, this reward does not include travel, transport or overnight accommodation.

£60 or more

2 of 2 claimed

'Adopt an Object' and private view invitation

Support the specialist display of one of Hardy’s closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for you and a guest) to the private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed, between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will also appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object. Find out more about the objects on our main Crowdfunder page.

£60 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - Hardy’s first landscape sketch

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy’s closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£60 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - 'The Trumpet-Major' notebook

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy’s closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£60 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - Emma Hardy 'Some Recollections'

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy’s closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£60 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - Tombstone design for Hardy's dog

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy’s closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£60 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - Portrait of Hardy and his mother

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy’s closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£60 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Adopt an Object - Far from Madding Crowd script

Support the conservation and mounting of one of Hardy's closest personal possessions. Then see that object in person with an exclusive invite (for two) to the exhibition private view at the museum of your choice. (Exact dates to be confirmed but between 25-28 May 2022.) Your name will appear near the object label for the duration of the exhibition. Maximum of two funders per object! Find out more about each object on our main project page.

£995 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Advance tour of the Hardy exhibition with curator

Be the first to see the Hardy exhibition in a special guided tour (for you plus three guests) of the museum of your choice with curator Harriet Still. You will receive a special signed copy of the guidebook and your name will appear on the donors' panel as a high level donor. After your tour, you will all join the private view as VIP guests of the museum director. (Exact dates to be confirmed, between 25-28 May 2022.)

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