Thomas Hardy (2nd June 1840 - 11th January 1928), celebrated poet and writer, was born in a modest thatched cottage near Dorchester in the West Country, to a builder father. His mother came from a line of intelligent, lively and ambitious women so ensured her son had the best formal education available for their modest means although this ended when he was 16. He became a draughtsman specialising in the building of churches was able to give it up to be a full time writer and poet with the publication of Far From the Madding Crown which became a bestseller and like much of his work was serialised. His writing reflects his passionate beliefs for social reform and exposes the hypocrisy of the rules of the Victorian age which constrained many freedoms with convention and restricted the transcending of class boundaries. His novels are almost entirely set in rural Wessex which although fictional is clearly rooted in the SW counties of England where he was born and lived most of his life. Hardy's writing caused controversy in his lifetime but despite this he was highly praised and showered with honorary doctorates from many universities, a knighthood, which he refused and in 1910 the prestigious Order of the Merit. Desperate Remedies was Hardy's first published work and much of the style, plot and themes of the status of women and the injustice of the class system are developed further in his later works. The book is a thriller or 'sensation' novel as it was then called and features the traditional concealed identities, deception, blackmail, macabre murders and exciting chases which keeps the reader in suspense throughout. The main character is Cythere Grave an innocent who has to contend with the attractive but evil Aeneas Manston. It is best not to divulge any thing else of the plot as it might spoil the reading of this cracking good yarn.