The woman behind Hardy’s Tess

Augusta Bugler, a Dorset resident, was the woman who inspired Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles in 1888, reveals her daughter Norrie Woodhall. According to Norrie, the famous author used to spy on Augusta when she was just 18 years old, milking a cow on her grandfather’s farm in Dorset in 1888.

The 48-year-old writer was so inspired by the teenager’s beauty that he went on to base the main character of his 1891 tragic novel on Augusta.

“Thomas Hardy told us that he used to walk past our mother each day when she was milking. She was a beautiful woman. He said himself that the memory must have entered his mind when he was creating the character of Tess,” Telegraph quoted her, as saying.

She added: “He used to walk to the Kingston Maurward estate, near Dorchester, as the lady who lived there thought he was clever and gave him great encouragement. On his way he would walk past a grey manor house where my mother Augusta and three other families lived.

“My grandfather ran a dairy there and my mother and her sisters would sit outside and milk the cows.” However, his so-called muse later married Arthur Bugler and had three daughters Eileen, Gertrude, Norrie and a son called Arthur.

She also claimed that Hardy had even asked her sister Gertrude to play the lead in the play several decades later because she resembled her mother Augusta. He even described the young actress as “the impersonator of Tess”.

Now, for the first time Woodhall has shown pictures of her mother and sister, in time to coincide with a new BBC series of Tess starring Gemma Arterton. — ANI