Students at a Weymouth secondary school were treated to a special visit by a popular biographer and writer.

Paula Byrne visited Wey Valley to talk to a Year 10 History class about her research for her latest published book Hardy Women: Mother, Sisters, Wives, Muse

Ms Byrne is the author of the bestselling biographies The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym, Perdita, Mad World, The Real Jane Austen, Belle, Kick and The Genius of Jane Austen.

She is also a founder and chief executive of ReLit, the Bibliotherapy Foundation, a charity devoted to the mental health benefits of reading.

During the session, Byrne explored the relationship between Hardy's 'real' women involved in his personal life alongside his fictionalised female characters in his writing such as Bathsheba Everdene and Tess.

She said: “There is a paradox in Hardy between his controversial personal relationships and the women in his fiction but we need to embrace this - relationships are complicated

“I wanted to present the unsung women that have never received a chapter in other biographies to give them a voice - particularly working class women such as the actress that played 'Tess' in Dorchester in 1924, Gertrude Bugler.”

One student said: “I was so intrigued and curious by the life of Hardy but particularly by his women as there is an ambiguity there around how he idealises his women from his life to the page.”