Prufrock: Thomas Hardy in London, the Problem with "Poetic Naturalism," and North Korea's 28 Websites | The Weekly Standard
"After the five crucial years he spent there in his early twenties, Hardy lived on and off in London and its suburbs until his early forties. In 1885, when he was forty-five, he and his wife Emma settled in Max Gate, the substantial red-brick villa that Hardy designed, and had his father and brother (who were both in the building trade) construct on the outskirts of Dorchester. This by no means, however, signalled the end of Hardy's and Emma's London lives, for they would spend several months each year in the capital, attending parties, going to concerts, plays and exhibitions, paying social calls, and visiting their clubs. They rented flats or houses at a variety of fashionable addresses - Bayswater, South Kensington, Holland Park, St John's Wood, Marylebone and Maida Vale - from which they sallied boldly forth to salons and soir?es and crushes and dinners. (After the enormous financial success of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, they even experimented with bringing up their own servants from Max Gate so as to ensure that their domestic needs were fully catered to in their London lodgings.) Hardy's flirtatious encounters in the city with various literary and Society women to whom he was attracted in the 1890s generated, as well as many fascinating diary entries and the drawing-room scenes in The Well-Beloved, a handful of urban poems that veer between the witty and the plangent.