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Page from the autograph manuscript of Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy’s best-known work was also his last novel. Jude the Obscure was a turning point in his career - its dark, fateful pessimism unleashed the critics’ hostility and persuaded Hardy to abandon prose for poetry. He presented the original manuscript of the novel, as well as one of his eight volumes of verse, Time’s Laughingstocks, to the Fitzwilliam Museum whose Director, Sydney Cockerell, he had befriended.