Claire Tomalin is the author of eight highly acclaimed biographies, including Thomas Hardy and Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, which won the 2002 Whitbread Book of the Year Award. She has previously won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Hawthornden Prize, the NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction, and the Whitbread Biography Award. She has also written her own biography, A Life of My Own. Educated at Cambridge University, she served as literary editor of the New Statesman and the Sunday Times (London). Claire Tomalin lives in London and is married to the playwright Michael Frayn.
Having won multiple awards for her biography of Samuel Pepys, Tomalin takes on the ambiguous Hardy. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Respected British biographer Tomalin (whose Samuel Pepys was 2002's Whitbread Book of the Year) sticks to the substantiated facts of Hardy's life (1840-1928) in her finely honed biography, dismissing the speculative claims of other Hardy scholars as she charts the great British novelist and poet's rise from humble rural origins to bestselling author and literary eminence. Tomalin captures the awkwardness of Hardy's conduct in high society following his literary success, brilliantly highlighting the snobbishly mocking diary entries of upper-class observers. At the heart of Tomalin's narrative is a gripping account of Hardy's long, troubled marriage to Emma Gifford in which Tomalin carefully shows how a heady courtship waned into disappointment and bitterness on both sides. Tomalin damns neither party, evoking Emma's eccentricities and frustrations along with Hardy's infatuations with other women. She also treats, with great sensitivity and insight, Hardy's poetic outpourings after Emma's death, in which he imaginatively returned to an image of her as his beloved muse. "The wounds inflicted by life never quite healed over in Hardy," writes Tomalin, although she avows she cannot completely fathom the underlying cause of his acute sensitivity to humiliation. A feat of distillation and mature judgment, Tomalin's biography artfully presents Hardy in his intimate and social world, offering succinct and insightful readings of his work along the way. Illus., map. (Jan. 15) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A fascinating case study in mid-Victorian literary sociology.
-The New York Times
Admirable . . . One returns to Thomas Hardy with renewed
pleasure and surprise.
-The New York Review of Books Tomalin brings . . . the skills of an experienced and accomplished biographer . . . and the confidence of a deeply informed literary critic.
-Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post