Preceding station: Tooting Broadway
The author Thomas Hardy is inextricably associated with Wessex, setting his novels in a fictionalised version of that part of England. However, for a brief period from 1878 to 1881, he had a house on Trinity Road in Tooting.
The move was brought about by professional considerations – in those pre-telephone, pre-Internet days, organising his literary affairs from the West Country was a bit of a pain in the old backside, and so he came to Tooting in order to be closer to his London publishers.
The experience was not a happy one, though it would be unfair to put the blame on Tooting Bec. Hardy was undergoing marital troubles, and his books published while living here received mixed reviews. After a fairly brief period, he declared that London was “a monster with four million heads and eight million eyes.” In 1880 he suffered an internal haemorrhage and decided that that was the last straw, moving back to Dorchester – a situation we might call “the return of the native,” if we wanted to show everyone how well-read we are. I wouldn’t stoop so low.
Hardy’s time here in South London gave us The Trumpet Major and A Laodicean. It also yielded a rather sad poem called Beyond the Last Lamp (near Tooting Common).
Next station: Balham