Thomas Hardy (1840–1928). A crucial figure in the transition from Victorian to Modernist fiction, perhaps chiefly important for his use of tragic endings. Born in Dorset, the region he would later make famous as “Wessex,” Hardy was a sickly child. His father was a stonemason, and he was apprenticed to a local architect at the age of 16. He had good teachers at local schools and enjoyed the opportunity to study Latin. He began adult life as a draftsman in London but dreamed of a career as a writer, thinking first of poetry. His first work of fiction appeared in 1871, and after the great success of Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), Hardy was able to give up architecture and devote himself to literature full-time. Many of his novels were originally published in weekly and monthly magazines, and the sexual content of his stories frequently led to protracted disputes with editors and publishers. By the late 1890s, owing to the financial independence he had gained with such novels as Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), he could afford to retire from fiction writing and devote himself to poetry once again. Hardy published his poetry through the 1910s and 1920s and is now regarded as a crucial influence on later poets, including Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, and Philip Larkin. His other major novels are The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), and Jude the Obscure (1895).