Thomas Hardy

English Novelist and Poet

In 1867, the young Thomas Hardy encountered the great English novelist quite by accident. It ought to rank as one of the most significant meetings in 19th century literary history, but, as on most such occasions, it was nothing of the sort. Hardy was then studying architecture in London and on one auspicious day he entered a coffee-shop near Charing Cross when he saw Dickens. "I went up and stood at the vacant place beside the stool on which Dickens was sitting. I had eaten my lunch, but I was quite prepared to eat another if the occasion would make Dickens speak to me. I hoped he would look up, glance at this strange young man beside him and make a remark -- if it was only about the weather. But he did nothing of the kind. He was fussing about his bill. So I never spoke to him."

From Peter Ackroyd, Dickens: A Biography.