Thomas Hardy hesitated when approaching Dickens and the moment passed.
Claire Tomalin recounts a story about Thomas Hardy in her excellent biography,"A Time Torn Man."
Hardy was a young man. He was living in Surbiton, one of the London suburbs near Kingston upon Thames at the time. He had just married Emma Gifford and they moved into a house called St Davids Villa in Hook Road.He was working as an architect for a firm in London and hadn't become famous as a writer.
Hardy was in the Strand and popped into a Lyons corner house for a cup of tea and a bite to eat. Charles Dickens was sitting there. He was immediately recognisable to Thomas Hardy as he would have been to anybody. Hardy was about to go over and introduce himself and say hello but Dickens called over a waiter and began arguing vehemently about his bill. Dickens was ever concerned about the money.Hardy hesitated and the moment passed. The two greatest novelists of the Victorian period nearly met.