Far from the madding crowd


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Far from the madding crowd'?

A quiet and rural place.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Far from the madding crowd'?

This phrase is best known as the title of one of Thomas Hardy’s most successful novels. Hardy took the title from Thomas Gray’s poem – Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, 1751:

‘Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.’

It is possible that Gray was also alluding to earlier works: by William Drummond, circa 1614:

“Farre from the madding Worldlings hoarse discords.”

or by Edmund Spenser, 1579:

“But now from me hys madding mynd is starte, And woes the Widdowes daughter of the glenne.”

Whether Gray was referring to a specific churchyard isn’t clear. It is well recorded though that Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard was written, at least in part, in a churchyard at Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire.

Trend of far from the madding crowd in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.