PRIZED Thomas Hardy archives will return to Dorset after a successful fundraising campaign.

Dorset Archives Trust launched a campaign in early December to raise the final £5,000 of a total £50,000 required to enable the purchase of the collection by Dorset History Centre from a private dealer in London.

And the funds were raised within days - meaning the collection of the famed author's manuscripts and documents can return to the county.

The archives are now set to be displayed at the Dorset History Centre where residents will be able to view them.

A spokesman for DAT said: "We are delighted to say that thanks to the generosity of the public, the sum was raised in rapid order in just a few days. DAT and the Dorset History Centre, where the collection will be housed and made accessible, would like to thank everyone who supported this appeal.

"We will now be able to proceed with the purchase and bring the collection back to Dorset.

"Thank you again for your support."

The collection consists of 46 separate elements, including Hardy’s typescript of the speech he delivered at the opening of Dorchester Grammar School in 1925.

Letters from Hardy are also included, with one giving a clear expression of the author’s interest in animal welfare. There is also a poem, penned by Hardy, about soldiers embarking on service in the Boer War, as well as books which once formed part of his own library at Max Gate near Dorchester.

An annotated copy of Horace belonging to Hardy has a schoolboy, and his personal edition of Pouncy’s Dorsetshire Photographically Illustrated, are also within the archives.

Dorset Archives Trust said the collection would enhance the public's enduring fascination with this key British author, whilst also supporting learning and public engagement with Hardy and his world.

In addition to the latest fundraising bid, the collection was paid for thanks to grants from Arts Council England and Friends of National Libraries.

The next step for the organisation is to make the full Hardy archives accessible through an online catalogue.

In order to do this, however, it will need to launch further fundraising initiatives in the future to catalogue, conserve and digitise the archives, which are currently being held at the Dorset History Centre.

For further information contact Sam Johnston on or call 01305 228929.