Mary and Kate were the sisters of Thomas Hardy, novelist and poet. The lived their lives in the shadow of their famous brother, but were themselves two of the early trail blazers in elementary education in England. Their austere and rigorous teacher training in Salisbury was followed by the hardship of working in impoverished country schools, mostly in Dorset. The authors explore the sisters’ different personalities and trace their stories, showing how their experiences influenced their brother’s writing. The book is fully illustrated, with pictures “setting the scene” as much as the words.