AN AUTHOR was delighted to see more than 70 people at his book launch in Dorchester.

Mark Ford launched Woman Much Missed: Thomas Hardy, Emma Hardy and Poetry in a joint venture with the Thomas Hardy Society at Waterstones book shop in the town centre.

The fitting location of Dorchester, the town Hardy called home, was chosen for the launch. 

The book explores poems that Thomas Hardy wrote in the wake of the death of his first wife.

It gives an extraordinary insight into the role of his first wife Emma in Hardy’s life and career, and her relationship with his family.

The author uses Hardy's poems to develop a narrative of he and his wife's 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.

Mark, who teaches in the English department of University College London where he has been a professor since 2005, read extracts from his book at the launch.

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.

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.

At the event, he recited the 1912-13 love poetry that Hardy created around the loss of his first wife Emma and he provided (for the first time in academia) many of the relevant contexts for understanding some of the most famous elegies in English.

"Living at Max Gate was intriguing as there were three people in the relationship - Hardy, Emma and his second wife Florence," he said.

Mark Chutter, chairman and academic director of the Thomas Hardy Society, said: "Thank you to Mark for this engaging evening and to Waterstones for kindly hosting the event."

Copies of Woman Much Missed by Mark Ford can be bought or ordered at Waterstones or online.