Paradox ruled Thomas Hardy's life. His birth was almost his death; he became one of the great Victorian novelists and reinvented himself as one of the twentieth-century's greatest poets; he was an unhappy husband and a desolate widower; he wrote bitter attacks on the English class system yet prized the friendship of aristocrats. In the hands of Whitbread Award-winning biographer Claire Tomalin, author of the bestselling books Charles Dickens: A Life and The Invisible Woman, Thomas Hardy the novelist, poet, neglectful husband and mourning lover all come vividly alive.
When the married Isabella Robinson was introduced to the dashing Edward Lane at a party in 1850, she was utterly enchanted. He was 'fascinating', she told her diary, before chastising herself for being so susceptible to a man's charms. But a wish had taken hold of her, and she was to find it hard to shake... In one of the most notorious divorce cases of the nineteenth century, Isabella Robinson's scandalous secrets were exposed to the world. Kate Summerscale brings vividly to life a frustrated Victorian wife's longing for passion and learning, companionship and love, in a society clinging to rigid ideas about marriage and female sexuality.