Tryphena Sparks, born in Puddletown, Dorset, the youngest child of James and Maria Sparks, was Thomas Hardy's cousin and possible lover, when she was 16 and he was 26. Hardy's mother suggested that Tryphena was not actually his cousin but his niece and he was thus prevented from marrying her. There are also suggestions that she had Hardy's child, a son called Randolph. The relationship ended when Hardy became engaged to Emma Gifford. She is considered by John Fowles an "important figure in both his emotional and imaginative life" and author Nicholas Hillyard considers that the affair is important in relation to Hardy's start as a novelist and poet.
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