Hardy’s Correspondents 

REACT Knowledge Exchange Hub

REACT Collaborative PhDs

Name:Helen Angear
PhD thesis title: Hardy's Correspondents
Period of study: September 2015 – September 2018

Supervisors: Professor Angelique Richardson, and Professor Tim Kendall, College of Humanities, University of Exeter and Dr Jon Murden, Director of the Dorset County Museum.

Mentor: Professor Gabriella Giannachi

Technical advisor: Gary Stringer, Digital Humanities, University of Exeter.

Research information:

The research is focused on Thomas Hardy and his correspondents, with particular emphasis on the role of letter-writing within the context of friendships with other historically significant individuals. The correspondence reveals Hardy’s involvement in a global network, engaged in social, intellectual and political debates from science and war to education and female emancipation.

The collection of over 4,000 letters forms part of Dorset County Museum's Thomas Hardy Memorial Collection, the largest Hardy collection in the world, recently selected for the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Programme register. While the letters from Hardy are in print (and have been available online since 2012), this collection has previously remained uncatalogued and unpublished.

Working with Exeter’s digital humanities team, this project involves digitization of the correspondence to create a remotely accessible online database. Further developments will include the use of new mobile technology to interpret, entertain and educate, enhancing access to the newly catalogued archive and informing the museum's existing multi-disciplinary software development.

Supported by a collaborative doctoral award from REACT and Dorset County Museum, the work will also provide new contexts for reading Hardy and educational outreach initiatives will focus on encouraging students to engage with cultural heritage, using archives to enhance learning in schools and colleges. This is in conjunction with the learning group of the Thomas Hardy Steering Group (partners include Dorset County Museum, Exeter, The National Trust, Bath Spa University, Dorset County Council, Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Thomas Hardy Society).


Dorset County Museum