by Maille Halloran
Author and poet Thomas Hardy served as a Justice of the Peace in Southern England for over thirty years. His period of public service was complemented by a sincere fascination for the law, especially divorce and the law’s effect on women. Merely glancing at the blurb of Hardy’s novels would reveal a preoccupation with the anguish of separation, particularly for female protagonists such as Tess. Hardy presided over many cases which provided the fodder for his fiction. He also sought such cases out, through courtroom visits and correspondence with High Court judges and officials.