A book exploring poems that Thomas Hardy wrote in the wake of the death of his first wife is to be launched in a fitting location.

It will be launched at Waterstone's bookshop in South Street, Dorchester - the town Hardy called home - on Thursday, July 20. 

Woman Much Missed by Mark Ford is a book-length study of the many poems that Hardy wrote after his first wife Emma died in November 1912.

Mark uses these poems to develop a narrative of their four-year courtship on the remote and romantic coast of Cornwall where they met, and then follows Hardy's poetic recreation of the slow degeneration of their marriage and their embittered final decade.

He demonstrates how Emma's advice, writings, and experiences were crucial to Hardy's evolution into both a bestselling novelist and one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century.

Although for over a decade their marriage had been troubled, and indeed Emma spent much time during her final years secluded in her attic rooms above his study, Hardy was deeply shocked by her unexpected death.

In the months that followed he composed some of the most poignant and powerful elegies in English.

Some 21 of these, including masterpieces such as 'The Voice' (which opens 'Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me') and 'After a Journey', were collected in 'Poems of 1912–13'.

While these have received much attention, his numerous other poems about Emma have only rarely been discussed.

Mark corrects this oversight, providing accessible and insightful readings from a poet's perspective.

He teaches in the English department of University College London, where he has been a professor since 2005.

He is a poet, critic, and editor, as well as a regular contributor to literary journals such as the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books.

He has also completed two series of an LRB podcast on twentieth-century poets with Seamus Perry.

This is his second book on the work of Thomas Hardy. His collection of essays, This Dialogue of One, was the winner of the Poetry Foundation's 2015 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism.

The launch is from 6.30pm to 8pm. This event is free but booking in advance is appreciated. You can book here.