The present booklet reprints in lieu of the text of Claire Tomalin's Laurie Lee Memorial Lecture at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature in October 2006 the 'Prologue' section of her recent biography Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man (Viking/Penguin 2006). The Cyder Press is grateful to the author and to Penguin Books Ltd for premission to reproduce it. Ms Tomalin devotes 'prologue' to explaining that the death of his first wife Emma was the 'moment when Thomas Hardy became a great poet' that her death 'proved to be hist best inspiration.' Envisioning himself in his olad age as 'a lover in mourning' he now poured out a sequence of elegies to his dead wife to the death of their love and to the intensity of their early feelings for each other which stand beside such other great elegies in English as Lycidas Adonais and In Memoriam. And in a series of sensitive readings of individual poems Claire Tomalin shows how Hardy with extraordinary control and fluency lyrically enacts the oscillation between 'an old man's sorrow and a young man's bliss'.