WITH the death of Jo Draper, Dorset has lost one of its most useful and original historians.

I know of no book which is a better introduction than her Dorset the Complete Guide, with its splendid illustrated account of the landscape, architecture and history of many of the towns and villages throughout the county. It is characteristic of her thoroughness that she visited and revisited the many places she described while writing it.

It is correctly entitled.

It is the guide to the county.

It has no rivals.

Of her other publications I would only mention Thomas Hardy’s England, which she wrote with her friend, the late John Fowles.

It is a splendid evocation of the passing ways of life in the agricultural world of Hardy’s time.

Jo was a character.

For all her scholarship, she was never stuffy or formal either in her clothes or her manner.

I shall miss her presence, usually encountered in the County Museum or on the corner of a Dorchester street.

While trying to get her to lecture (which she never agreed to do) she would evade my efforts with a barrage of friendly jokes and hoots of laughter.

Dr Alan Chedzoy Spa Road Weymouth