On December 12th, 2006, in Romania, a heroic Hardy scholar died of cancer. Her name is Elena Carp -- one of TTHA's founding members.
Elena, whose TTHA Vice President's page can be found at
At several earlier Dorchester Thomas Hardy conferences many of us celebrated Elena's achievements and in the 1980s she was awarded free air fares (by the THS) from Romania to London so that she could attend these Hardy events. Later, under her instigation, TTHA inaugurated a Books-to-Romania project which, thanks to the generosity of TTHA members, succeeded in providing several hundred Hardy books to the post-Ceaucescu impoverished Romanian National Library (the endless form-filling involved in getting those "wicked" books through Romanian customs is another story!).
Elena was, without question, a most remarkable woman. Her daughter, Irina Carp, appears to have inherited many of her mother's rare qualities, especially her loving kindness. Irina has kept in constant touch with me throughout Elena's long and agonising illness.
It's a revelation to learn how deeply Hardy affects the world, in all its corners. In this context it's worth quoting a paragraph from Irina's letter today:
One (among her very few)of her happy moments in life was when she participated at the Thomas Hardy conferences in Dorset. She was very happy when she spoke to you and to other literary people who lectured about Thomas Hardy's work. She was also very glad when you put online some of her work, on the website of TTHA that you created. She enjoyed very much all the material that you sent her. I know all these and I won't forget that also through you she had some happy moments in life. I also thank you for all these.
Yet again, we have Thomas Hardy to thank for the gladness he brings even to our darkest moments.