The Trumpet-Major

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First edition (publ. Spottiswoode & Co.)

The Trumpet-Major is a novel by Thomas Hardy published in 1880, and his only historical novel. It concerns the heroine, Anne Garland, being pursued by three suitors: John Loveday, the eponymous trumpet major in a British regiment, honest and loyal; his brother Bob, a flighty sailor; and Festus Derriman, the cowardly nephew of the local squire. Unusually for a Hardy novel, the ending is not entirely tragic; however, there remains an ominous element in the probable fate of one of the main characters.

The novel is set in Weymouth during the Napoleonic wars;[1] the town was then anxious about the possibility of invasion by Napoleon.[2] Of the two brothers, John fights with Wellington in the Peninsular War, and Bob serves with Nelson at Trafalgar. The Napoleonic Wars was a setting that Hardy would use again in his play, The Dynasts, and indeed it borrows from the same source material.[3]

Edward Neill has called the novel an attempt to repeat the success of his earlier work Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), after the limited success of his intervening works.[4]

Sources[edit]

The book is unusual for being the only one of novels for which he wrote preliminary notes, in a pocket book traditionally labelled as 'The Trumpet-Major Notebook'.[1] It is also perhaps extraordinary in the extent to which Hardy aimed for historical accuracy; to that end, he conducted research at the British Museum and consulted various periodicals and newspaper accounts of the time.[3] Richard H. Taylor has noted the accuracy of Hardy's details in the novel.[3]

Operatic version[edit]

Thomas Hardy's novel provided the source of Alun Hoddinott's opera The Trumpet Major, with libretto by Myfanwy Piper, first performed in Manchester on 1 April 1981.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Taylor xx
  2. ^ "Hardy and the Trumpet Major". Dorset Life. 2010. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Taylor xxi-xxii
  4. ^ Neill 351

References[edit]

  • Hardy, Thomas (1978). Richard H. Taylor, ed. The Personal Notebooks of Thomas Hardy. London: Macmillan. 
  • Neill, Edward (2006). "Mixed Modes in The Trumpet-Major". Essays in Criticism 56 (4): 35169.  (subscription required)

External links[edit]