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Wheels within [UK]:
To write the Life of Thomas Hardy is an epic undertaking. [...]
But to read a review of two such books (Claire Tomalin's Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man and Ralph Pite's Thomas Hardy: The Guarded Life) is the work of a few minutes. Also: Emma Lavinia Hardy: A retrospective diagnosis:
One day in November 1912, Mrs Emma Hardy was decidedly off-colour. [...]

A slow mental deterioration over the course of some years, delusions of grandeur, perhaps a disorganized knee joint, pain of a degree sufficient to require treatment with an opiate, and at the end, back pain followed by sudden death: there has to be a strong suspicion that Emma had been suffering for years from neurosyphilis, may well have had incipient General Paralysis of the Insane and the lightning pains of Tabes Dorsalis, possibly Charcot’s Joint. Other pathologies could of course be invoked to explain one or other of her symptoms and illnesses over her latter years, but only quaternary syphilis would accommodate all of them under a single diagnostic umbrella. The cause of death was surely not gallstones, impacted or otherwise – it was much more likely to have been a ruptured aortic aneurysm, which in 1912 was again more likely than not to have been syphilitic in its aetiology. [...]

But is there any further evidence that this indeed had been the state of affairs, and Emma’s fate as I have suggested? We know for certain that at a particular point in their long, childless marriage Emma Hardy had withdrawn all affection from her husband, never to restore it. This seems to have occurred around 1891, some twenty-one years before her death. In his biography of Hardy, Michael Millgate mentions that Emma had a debilitating ’flu-like illness in the autumn of 1891 (not the season for true influenza) which could have been florid secondary syphilis, at which point the diagnosis may have been made. At about that time she began a diary, entitling it “What I think about my husband”; it was found and destroyed after her death. [...]
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