Unsuccessful with publishing his poetry, he began to write fiction. In 1871, he published his novel, Desperate Remedies anonymously in three volumes by publisher, William Tinsley. After his publication of Desperate Remedies, he devoted his entire life to writing and produced fourteen novels altogether. He received much fame and success for his fourth novel, Far From the Madding Crowd (1874). His twelfth novel, Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891) received wide acclaim for its highly charged metaphorical language and physical descriptions. Considered a realist and naturalist of his time, Hardy’s novels reflect themes of nature, predeterminism, rural life, class divisions, human suffering, and hypocrisy. Although his novels received varied critical reviews and responses, his last novel, Jude the Obscure, created the most controversy among critics. The Bishop of Wakefield burned his copy of Jude the Obscure, calling it indecent. Hardy wrote in his 1812 Preface of Jude the Obscure that the Bishop’s outbreak of anger cured him of further interest in writing novels. He returned to his true passion of writing poetry thereafter. In 1898, he published a total of eight volumes of verse entitled the Wessex Poems.
In December 1927, Hardy became ill from pleurisy and died at Max Gate on January 11, 1928. His funeral was held on January 16, 1928 at Westminster Abbey. Hardy wished for his body to be interred in the same grave as his first wife, Emma Hardy, but his executor, Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, insisted that he be buried in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner. A compromise was made among family and friends and his heart was buried with Emma, while his ashes were buried in the Poet’s Corner. Though his writing is frequently described as gloomy and depressing, Hardy is still widely read today among literary scholars and students alike. Considered one of the best English writers of the nineteenth century, he is known for his highly poetic language, controversial themes, and detailed descriptions of southern England's rural landscape.