Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) Hardy is one of the truly great novelists. Having had a sheltered upbringing I had never heard of him until my later teens when he was the doyen of English literature students at school and college. I have read lots of his novels but not all. Tess is the best perhaps although the Mayor of Casterbridge is a contender. Once you've read Jude the Obscure, however, you should be able to see through Hardy and his anti-God pessimism. There is no great desire in me at least to read much more. Hardy himself gave up writing novels after that one and it is not hard to see why.