Claire Tomalin's biographies are always worth reading, she's one of the few biographers I read no matter who their subject is. Thomas Hardy is one of my favourite novellists and poets, so this was a perfect match for me. Tomalin manages to say something fresh about a man who has been endlessly written about. She concentrates on the poetry, which has often been relegated to second place behind the novels. She also shines a light on Hardy's relationship with his first wife, Emma, who emerges from the book as a spirited and exciting young woman. The book opens with a beautifully written chapter on Emma's death and how this inspired Hardy to write some of his most beautiful love poems. Their relationship had deteriorated to the point where they hardly spoke and Emma lived in the attic, but her death released all his happy memories of their courtship and early life together. Tomalin's previous books on Ellen Ternan and Dorothea Jordan have shown her ability to imagine the lives of women on the margins, and with Emma Hardy, she has recalled her to life. The book sent me back to the work, which is what I look for in a literary biography.