THE largest collection of Thomas Hardy exhibits ever displayed at one time can now be seen as part of a new exhibition.

Hardy’s Wessex: The Landscapes that Inspired a Writer launched last week and is on display across four museums in Wiltshire and Dorset.

It runs simultaneously at The Salisbury Museum, Dorset Museum in Dorchester, Poole Museum, and Wiltshire Museum in Devizes – each focussing on a different theme.

The exhibition tells the story of Victorian novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy, amidst the Wessex landscapes that shaped his view of the world.

The exhibition has the support of Lord Julian Fellowes of West Stafford, DL, President of the Thomas Hardy Society.

He said: “After years of planning, I am delighted that this exhibition has finally come to fruition, displaying fascinating objects from the Thomas Hardy collection – many of which have remained unseen in museum stores for years.

“These personal items will help people come to know Hardy as a man, not just as a writer – a man who loved Wessex and so beautifully captured its landscapes and people in his writing.”

The exhibition in The Salisbury Museum uncovers Hardy’s links with the city and his views on religion and feminism.

Harriet Still, curator of the exhibition for Wessex Museums, added:“It is so exciting to share this amazing collection across our museum partnership.

“We hope the exhibition will encourage visitors to see Hardy in a different light – for example, how he used his writing to campaign for rural workers’ rights, women’s equality and animal welfare, or his conflicting interests in superstition and science.

“Each exhibition sheds light on different aspects of Hardy’s life, work and character.”

Thanks to support from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, each museum also has a ‘star’ object loaned from national collections, including original manuscripts and nationally-important paintings.

The majority of the other objects are from Dorset Museum’s Thomas Hardy Memorial collection, which is inscribed on the Unesco Memory of the World Register for its ‘world significance and outstanding universal value’.

The Hardy’s Wessex exhibition opened on Tuesday, May 28 and runs until October 30.

For more information about the Hardy’s Wessex: The Landscapes that Inspired a Writer exhibition and the visit

Alternatively, for more details on the exhibition being held in Salisbury go to Salisbury Museum’s website at


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