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Image of Jude the Obscure

Thomas Hardy
manuscript for Jude the Obscure
Britain, 1895
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
MS 1-1911, p. 1 of the original manuscript


Preparing to write about Thomas Hardy led me to the Fitzwilliam Museum, where the manuscript of Jude the Obscure is held, bound in leather and marked 'Given in October 1911'. It is not a complete manuscript, since about 50 pages are missing. My impression is that they are all passages or episodes that might cause trouble, and it would be interesting to know in what circumstances they were removed from the manuscript during the sixteen years between 1895 when Hardy completed his work and the gift of the manuscript. Presumably whoever removed them also destroyed them; and since Jude was the first of Hardy's novels not to be shown to and discussed with his wife Emma during its composition, and that what she saw as its attacks on marriage and religion upset her, it seems possible that she may have been the culprit.

It is written on ruled paper about 10 x 7 inches, in ink, in Hardy's regular and legible hand. The chapters are numbered in Roman numerals and there is no division into parts. Each chapter follows straight on, on the same page as the previous one - no waste of paper. Some of the various titles Hardy considered are given, with Jude the Obscure at the top and four others below, The Simpletons, Last & First, Hearts Insurgent and Dreamers [illegible]. You can see the changes Hardy made to the names of the characters - Jude started as Jack - and how Jude's cousin Sue was at first said to have been adopted as a child by 'the Provost, Cloister College, Christminster', where Jude wrote to her, although they had never met, asking for grammar books.

Acquiring literary manuscripts was the idea of Sydney Cockerell, one of the great directors of the museum. He visited Hardy for the first time in September 1911 and made such an impression on him that Hardy asked him to advise him on the distribution of almost all his manuscripts. The most surprising thing about this episode is that Cockerell had not at that point read any of Hardy's work. He soon remedied this and became a close and lifelong friend of Hardy, who appointed him his literary executor. Cockerell's diary describes many visits to Hardy at Max Gate, and also Hardy's visits to Cambridge, where he was given an honorary doctorate in 1913.

© Claire Tomalin, 2008


Image of Claire Tomalin

Claire Tomalin

Image of Thomas Hardy

courtesy Penguin Books

Claire Tomalin FRSL (b. 1933)

Born in London in 1933, Claire Tomalin, née Delavenay, was educated at Hitchin Girl’s Grammar School, Dartington Hall School and Newnham College, Cambridge. She then worked as a reader and editor for Heinemann, Hutchinson and Cape and subsequently as literary editor for the New Statesman magazine and the Sunday Times newspaper. Having encouraged young writers including Martin Amis and Julian Barnes, she herself published a major biography The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (Whitbread First Novel Award 1974) and a study of Shelley and his world, before leaving journalism in 1986 to become a full-time writer.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1974 and Vice-President of English PEN since 1997, Tomalin has focussed most of her biographical work on remarkable women: the feminist thinker Mary Wollstonecraft; the bisexual writer Katherine Mansfield; Nelly Ternan, the mistress of Charles Dickens; and the actress Dora Jordan, mother of ten illegitimate royal children. Her book The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for biography) in 1990 and the Hawthornden Prize and NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction in 1991. Her book Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self was Whitbread Book of the Year in 2002 and won the Samuel Pepys Award in 2003. Tomalin is Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and Newnham College, Cambridge. She is also Honorary Member of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and was awarded an honorary Litt.D. by Cambridge University in 2007.

The mother of one son and two daughters, Tomalin lost her first husband, the prominent journalist Nicholas Tomalin, in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. She is now married to the novelist, playwright and translator Michael Frayn. In 2002, Tomalin and her husband were short-listed for the Whitbread Book of the Year award; while Tomalin won, her husband was accorded the best novel award for his wartime coming-of-age book Spies. Claire Tomalin and Michael Frayn live in London.

To read from Claire Tomalin's biography Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man click here.

UCP 2008

Related Links

Selected Bibliography

C. Tomalin, The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974

C. Tomalin, Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life, Viking, 1987

C. Tomalin, The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens, Viking, 1990 - the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for biography), 1990 and the Hawthornden Prize and NCR Book Award for Non-Fiction, 1991

C. Tomalin, The Winter Wife (play), Nick Hern Books, 1991

C. Tomalin, Mrs Jordan's Profession, Viking, 1994

C. Tomalin, Jane Austen: A Life, Viking, 1997

C. Tomalin, Several Strangers: Writing from Three Decades, Viking, 1999

C. Tomalin, Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, Viking, 2002 - Whitbread Book of the Year, 2002 and Samuel Pepys Award, 2003

C. Tomalin, Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man, Viking, 2006

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