Hardcover256 PagesSize: 234 × 153 mm
80 B&W illustrations
ISBN: 9781848222502Publication: May 01, 2018

"Handsomely designed and generously illustrated, it also has the merit of being a visual pleasure to read, a bonus not always to be found in these days of increasingly meagre book-production values." – Keith Wilson, English Literature in Transition: 1880-1920

"A must read for anyone with an interest in Hardy." – Tony Fincham, The Thomas Hardy Journal

"This is a thought-provoking and elegantly written book of value to all students of architecture, conservation and nineteenth – and early twentieth-century visual culture." – Jeremy Musson, The Victorian

"This is a marvellous book, recommended to anyone interested in architecture or conservation, and it will make readers eager to take another, more informed, look at Hardy’s novels." – Peter Parker, A Magazine for RIBA Friends of Architecture


“Kester Rattenbury […] takes what is usually seen as a footnote of Hardy’s life and puts it at the centre. Again, the privilege is that of looking into a great mind.” – Rowan Moore, The Observer's Best Books of 2018

The Wessex Project: Thomas Hardy, Architect

Kester Rattenbury


  • Engagingly written by an architectural writer and critic, this is the first book to explore Wessex as Hardy saw it – through architectural eyes 
  • Offers startling new insights into Hardy’s work and how it has shaped England 
  • Includes a wealth of little-known illustrations of Hardy’s built and unbuilt architecture, his maps, drawings and photographs

Thomas Hardy is one of England’s greatest novelists and poets, whose part-real, part-imaginary realm of Wessex has taken on a life of its own. But his first career in architecture has been seen as perverse or contradictory. The assumption has been: he changed career because he wasn't much of an architect.

This book is the first to study Hardy from an architectural perspective, and it offers startling insights into a man who never stopped thinking, writing and working as an architect. It reveals a biting commentator on the architectural debates of his day; the most influential conservation writer there has ever been; and his experiments in architectural representation – which would still be radical a century later. Linking writing, maps, images, polemic and buildings, Wessex appears as a remarkable, entirely architectural project that shapes the way we see, imagine and build England to this day.

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