A POPULAR Thomas Hardy-inspired play has been translated from the stage to the page.

Dorset playwright Peter John Cooper, who has been writing and directing plays for the last 40 years, has published his first book which offers an insight into Hardy’s troubled relationship with his first wife Emma.

She Opened the Door is based on his successful play of the same name and includes notes on the historical context and what inspired Peter to write the play.

The fantasy is set at Hardy’s former home in Max Gate in September 1895, when his manuscript for Jude the Obscure needed to be returned to its publisher and sees Emma threatening to burn it before interventions from Hardy’s mother, his maid and ‘the other woman’ in his life at the time.

It includes hidden references and quotations from Hardy’s own works, which fans of the great Dorset writer will have fun spotting.

Peter said: “I wanted to show that Hardy was truly a man of his time, a cutting-edge, contemporary writer who was caught up in the feminist movement.”

Max Gate in Dorchester was the setting for the recent launch of the book, which also features full colour pictures of the AsOne Theatre Company performing She Opened the Door on stage and bringing the play to life.

Julie Musk, from local publishers Roving Press, said Peter’s work offered a rare insight into the playwright’s creative process and also offered something extra for those who enjoyed the play.

She said: “What’s unique about this book is that it combines the complete script of the play with Peter’s research, thoughts and inspiration – showing something of how a playwright works.

“Moreover, I loved seeing the play performed, but the intricacies and subtleties of plot are clearer on the page, as you have more time to digest them.”

Copies of Peter’s work are available from local bookshops and can also be bought direct from Roving Press online at rovingpress.co.uk or by calling 01300 321531.