With a new Introduction by Cedric Watts, Research Professor of English, University of Sussex. A Pair of Blue Eyes, though early in the sequence of Hardy s novels, is lively and gripping. Its dramatic cliff-hanging episode, for example, is at once tense, ironic, feministic and erotic. With settings in Wessex and London, the novel also has some strongly autobiographical features, as the blue-eyed heroine, Elfride Swancourt, is based largely on Emma Gifford, who became Thomas Hardy s first wife. Elfride s vivacious nature attracts several lovers, but she is beset by sexual prejudice, and the ensuing ironies reveal the constraints of her times. A Pair of Blue Eyes provides an engaging and moving experience for today s readers.