Hardy's works take place in Wessex (named after the Anglo-Saxon kingdom which existed in the area). One of his distinctive achievements is to have captured the cultural atmosphere of rural Wessex in the golden epoch that existed just before the coming of the railways and the agricultural and industrial revolutions that were to change the English countryside for ever.
His works are often deeply pessimistic and full of bitter irony, in sharp contrast to the prevalent Victorian optimism.
Upon a poet's page I wrote Of old two letters of her name; Part seemed she of the effulgent thought Whence that high singer's rapture came. - When now I turn the leaf the same Immortal light illumes the lay, But from the letters of her name The radiance has died away!