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The strange story of Thomas Hardy’s heart

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Everyone should know the writer Thomas Hardy, famous for writing novels such as Tess D’Ubberville and several others.

This is a bit of a gruesome story but we are assured that it is true, which is perhaps even worse. Do not read it if you are very sensitive.

Being a successful author when he died in 1928 it seemed appropriate to bury him at Westminster Abbey along with other people in the fields of literature, politics or science. But Hardy was very attached to his homeland; Dorset and had asked to be buried in the small graveyard next to Stinsford church, which the writer has always frequented since he was a child. 

It was then decided to make a compromise, Hardy’s body would be buried at Westminster Abbey while the heart would remain in Dorset and buried in the church graveyard as the writer wished.

The village doctor made the delicate operation of removing the heart from the corpse, once removed he placed it wrapped in a cloth on the table. When he returned shortly after, he no longer found his heart but saw that his cat had stolen it and ate it.

He then decided to kill the cat that contained the heart and have it buried. The photos of Hardy’s heart funeral in fact show a container where the heart should have been, which was undoubtedly a little too big to hold a heart but just the right size to hold a cat.

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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The historic Kensington pub where Dickens and DH Lawrence used to drink

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A traditional pub in South Kensington, famous for being patronised by Charles Dickens (who lived on this street at number 11 for a while) and DH Lawrence.

Even now it is a pub that is often packed with people in the evening and you won’t always find a seat if you don’t eat. If you want to experience the atmosphere of a historic pub but without the crowds, you can do it in the afternoon when you will also find a seat.

Charles Dickens used to drink in this pub

The pub also offers food and has a garden for nice days or you could go downstairs where you can find tables to eat in an area not too crowded. To get there you have to find a side door. The menu is typical of a pub, but if you are passing through and want to have traditional fish & chips or a pie with a pint of beer, this is a great place to do it. It is not far from the museums of South Kensington so we are in an area where many tourists will be passing through.

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Book Emily Bronte The Complete Poems, Penguin Classics on Love, Loss and Sorrow

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Emily Jane Bronte did not write her poems for publication. They contained her private thoughts and emotions intended for herself alone. Charlotte discovered the poems and persuaded her to submit them for publication, in a book containing the work of all three Bronte sisters, using the male pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell.
 
Her poems make painful reading, reflecting the love, loss and sorrow she experienced in her young life. In one poem, Emily decides that life has passed her by and says she has no friends. “As friendless after eighteen years, As lone as on my natal day” Sadly her two elder sisters Maria and Elizabeth lay buried in the graveyard, which her bedroom overlooked.
 
They had died from tuberculosis after being sent away to school. Her mother was also buried there. Emily said that she hid these sad feelings well “With that sweet look and lively tone and bright eye shining all the day, They could not guess at midnight lone, How she would weep the time away.”
Emily never wanted to leave home and had to return from Belgium, where she went for tuition with Charlotte, due to homesickness. At the Rectory she busied herself with helping the family servant Tabby with housework, and walking on the Moors with her dog Keeper. Secretly there were the poems she was writing, which although she couldn’t know it, secured her a place in English Literature.
 
This was even before the publication of her novel Wuthering Heights in 1847. The poems were published in 1846, three years before her death, at the age of thirty in 1848.
Her love of the moors and her home is expressed in her poetry “The Bluebell is the sweetest flower, That waves in summer air” and But what on earth is half so dear, So longed for as the hearth of home”
 
Despite these deep attachments, Emily’s poems have dark undertones. She says “Sleep brings no rest to me, The shadows of the dead, My waking eyes may never see, Surround my bed” In the poem “The Philosopher” she longs for a sign  “Had I but seen his glorious eye ONCE light the clouds that wilder me, I ne’re had raised this cowards cry, To cease to think and cease to be” At this point Emily may have had suicidal ideation. She certainly longs for death to end her hidden sufferings and join the loved ones, who are buried, often deep in snow covered graves in the churchyard. Thankfully in the poem Remembrance, Emily seems to turn a corner and decides to go on with life, despite their loss, but still fears that loving memories will make life seem empty.  In the poem “No coward soul is mine” Emily resolutely declares her faith.
 
My own favourite poem is one in which Emily celebrates the power of memory:-
 
All hushed and still within the house
Without – all wind and driving rain
But something whispers to my mind
Through rain and through the wailing wind
Never Again
Never Again? Why not again? 
Memory has power 
As real as thine.
 

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A bookshop that sells books for the visually impaired opens in Paris

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Two French publishing houses have opened a specialized bookshop in Paris, in the Pantheon area, called the “Librairie des grands caractères”, a way to grant even the visually impaired the luxury of a walk among books.  And  the sensual pleasure of touching and breathing paper.

Customers are those who suffer from vision-related problems, due to disease or age and we are talking of over a million people in a country like France.

And these books are specialò the paper is made so as not to dazzle, the line spacing is studied, the contrast is never excessive, even and the character is not that of traditional books but an ad hoc one, called Luciole.

One more reason not to abandon reading on paper is, in the case of some totally or partially reversible eye diseases, its important rehabilitative power for sight.

Unfortunately the catalogue of books for visually impaired people is still very limited, it has only about 600 titles. 

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