RESIDENTS can now view a "little window" into the private life of Thomas Hardy after a handwritten letter from the iconic Dorset author was put on display in Dorchester.

Dorset Archives Trust and the Thomas Hardy Society jointly purchased the letter so that it can be viewed by members of the public at the Dorset History Centre alongside a range of other Hardy-related archives.

The letter was composed in June 1922, six year's before Hardy's death, and was addressed to Sir Clifford Albutt, Regius Professor of Physics at Cambridge University.

It is believed that the letter, whilst one of thousands written by Thomas Hardy, could represent an important part of our understanding and knowledge of this great Dorset writer.

In it, Hardy talks about the visiting a mental institution with Allbutt and of his fascination with meeting the patients there.

Hardy had a keen interest in the work of asylum hospitals and their treatment of the individuals within, although it is not known if he ever visited Dorset’s own Herrison Hospital.

In the letter, Hardy also alludes to his first meeting with Allbutt in 1893, and that given that so much time has elapsed since then and because of Hardy’s own advanced years, refers to the two of them as "the remnants of the Victorians of that day."

Tony Fincham, Hon Chairman of the Thomas Hardy Society said “The THS are very pleased to have been able to contribute to the acquisition of this important letter from Thomas Hardy to a physician, whom he most admired – and for the letter now to be kept safe and available for scholarly inspection at the Dorset History Centre.”

Carola Campbell, Chairman of the Dorset Archives Trust said “The Dorset Archives Trust is delighted to have led the acquisition of this historic letter with the generous support of THS.

"Thomas Hardy’s novels and poems reflect the social history of Dorset during his life time and are loved and admired across the globe.

"This correspondence provides another little window into the personal life of this iconic author.”