BOOKS: Versatile Monomaniac

When Thomas Hardy's latest biographer stops squabbling with other writers, he properly emphasizes his subject's poetry

Thomas Hardy lived to be 200 years old, or so it must have seemed to his literary competitors. He reached prominence in 1872 with his second novel, Under the Greenwood Tree, and was going strong half a century later. His last / book, a volume of poems titled Winter Words, appeared in 1928, shortly after his death at 87. In his introduction to Winter Words, Hardy crowed that he was the "only English poet who has brought out a new volume of his verse" at so advanced an age.

The deathless man keeps resurfacing, most recently in a Masterpiece Theatre adaptation...

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