Thomas Hardy started composing poetry in the heyday of Tennyson and Browning. He was still writing with unimpaired power sixty years later, when Eliot and Yeats were the leading names in the field. His extraordinary stamina and a consistent individuality of style and vision made him a survivor, immune to literary fashion. At the start of the twenty-first century his reputation stands higher than it ever did, even in his own lifetime. He is now recognised not only as a great poet, but as one who is widely loved. He speaks with directness, humanity and humour to scholarly or ordinary readers alike.