The friendship between Thomas Hardy and a woman who inspired the character Tess of the d'Urbervilles is explored in an evening of readings from letters, diaries and other writings.

A Portrait of Tess: Mr Hardy's War, will be performed at Dorchester Corn Exchange on Monday, July 16 at 7.30pm.

It tells the story of Thomas Hardy’s warm relationship with the Thornycroft family.

Hardy's friendship with the notable Thornycroft family stretched through the generations from Hardy’s friendship with the sculptor Hamo Thornycroft and his beautiful wife Agatha (a model for Tess), to Hardy’s war service in London and Dorchester and his influence on the young Siegfried Sassoon (Agatha's nephew).

It has long been considered that Agatha Thornycroft was one of the inspirations for Tess of the d'Urbervilles, with Hardy referring to her as 'the most beautiful woman in England' and described her as 'her on whom I thought when I wrote Tess of the d'Urbervilles'.

The war poet Siegfried Sassoon first met Thomas Hardy on a visit to Max Gate, and they soon became friends. Sassoon went on to write one of his most famous poems about Hardy At Max Gate.

Enjoy this evening of entertainment with Andrew & Marilyn Leah, featuring Tim Laycock, Alistair Chisholm and Andrew & Marilyn Leah.

*A Portrait of Tess: Mr Hardy's War, Dorchester Corn Exchange, Monday, July 16. Call Dorchester Arts for tickets.