Hardy Women by Paula Byrne

Thomas Hardy once received a fan letter from a young woman in New York, who had read Tess of the D’Urbervilles: “I wonder at your complete understanding of a woman’s soul.” And yet his first wife said “He understands only the women he invents—the others not at all.”

How was it that the novelist who created some of the most memorable and modern female characters in literature had such troubled relationships with real women?

In this highly innovative book, acclaimed biographer Paula Byrne re-examines Hardy’s life through the eyes of the women who made him—mother, sisters, girlfriends, wives, muses. The story veers from shocking scenes such as his obsession with the sight of a woman hanged, to poignant vignettes of unfulfilled passion, to fascinating details of working women’s lives in the nineteenth century. Paula Byrne reveals that it is through hardy women that we can enter into the heart of the great novelist and poet.

1 February 2024 | HB | 9780008322250 | £25

If you’re a bookseller in the UK or Ireland and you’d like an advance reading copy of Hardy Women please send your request, along with your name and bookshop address, to El at independentthinking@harpercollins.co.uk

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