Emma Lavinia Gifford was born on 24 November 1840 and her place in history is assured since she was Thomas Hardy's first wife. They grew apart after their 1874 marriage but they always shared a love of literature and of cats. She considered herself better born than he was, and in her latter years could seem scatter brained in speech. She called his family peasants. But his biographer Claire Tomalin, took care to specify Emma was just eccentric, not crazy, as some of their friends had said. She was interested in women's suffrage, and wrote many letters to the press -- including letters complaining about cruelty to circus tigers. Emma Hardy died on November 27, 1912 at Max Gate, their home in Dorchester.