Doctor claims Thomas Hardy gave wife STD

Dec. 8, 2006 at 3:16 PM

LONDON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Retired British physician Robert Alan Frizzell says Thomas Hardy's first wife Emma died in 1912 of syphilis she contracted from him.

Frizzell published his theory in the latest issue of The Times of London Literary Supplement. Frizzell believes the situation caused "hostilities" for the couple during the last 20 years of their marriage. He says that's why Hardy expressed so much remorse in elegies he penned after Emma died.

Frizzell had read a biography of Hardy, learning his wife died of gallstones and heart failure. Hardy's doctor remarked in a note he thought there was also an "internal perforation."

The couple had a long marriage, but no children. Frizzell believes symptoms like forgetfulness, irritability, poor concentration and grandiose delusions indicate Emma suffered from the STD. Emma even claimed she wrote one or more of her husband's novels.

It's widely known in literary circles Hardy liked attractive young women.

Curator of the Hardy collection at Dorset County Museum Lilian Swindall told The Times newspaper on Friday the research is "very interesting." The author of "Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man" Claire Tomalin says she's "skeptical."

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