I’m looking forward to visiting Hardy’s Wessex – the landscapes that inspired a writer – at Wessex Museums this summer. So much to learn about the man, his writings and the lands in which he lived.
So far I have managed to find just one Aldbourne connection. Research via Mr Google and the British Newspaper Archive tells part of a story concerning a visit by the Aldbourne Players to Dorchester in May 1910.
The best known of the village groups, that from the Wiltshire village of Aldbourne … performed to largely empty houses, in Dorchester Corn Exchange, lured there by the belief that ‘they were paying a visit to another company of local players who had made themselves famous’Thomas Hardy on Stage by Keith Wilson 1994
Apparently, as Keith Wilson goes on to say, the Village Wedding received a ‘lukewarm and condescending response’ in the Dorset County Chronicle. Not just out of loyalty to the Hardy productions by the Dorchester players, but from the fundamental fact that the ‘Hardy’ actors ‘played parts entirely different from those of their proper selves’. Whereas McEvoy selected village folk to portray their own way of life, dialect and family celebration.
One day, I’d very much like to obtain a copy of Mr Wilson’s book and perhaps take a look at the newspaper archive for the Dorset County Chronicle – definitely more research needed. You can read more about the Hardy Players via The Hardy Society website https://www.hardysociety.org/
Mr Hardy and Mr Charles McEvoy did meet for an important conversation in November 1911
A much later article, possibly by the same writer, plays tribute on the occasion of Mr Hardy’s 82nd birthday :
In that moment of the dying day I realised as never before how out of the very landscape of his own countryside and the conditions of its people – generation after generation of passionate, simple human lives, sprung from the brown soil, destined to return thither as surely as the sap from leafless boughs – the ironist in him was born.
I can see him still standing there [at Max Gate], gazing out of those Downs of Wessex. He has not ‘made them his’ as the cant phrase goes. They – as he would be the first to say -are greater than he, and that very consciousness is a part of his greatness.
But they have made him theirs. Theirs is his patience; theirs is his irony. They had waited for him through how many thousands and thousands of years! Somehow I feel that they will have to wait a little longer yet before the stage is ready for them!S R Littlewood Pall Mall Gazette 2 June 1922