Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas (1878-1917), poet and writer, was born in Lambeth to Welsh-born parents on 3 March 1878. He was educated at St Paul's School, London, and Lincoln College, Oxford.

He was encouraged in his early literary ambitions by the critic James Ashcroft Noble, with his first book, The Woodland Life, appearing in 1897. Thomas married Noble's daughter Helen (1877-1967) in 1899, graduated from Lincoln College in 1900, then made his living writing literary reviews for the Daily Chronicle as well as essays, anthologies, guidebooks and folk-tales. He published further books, including The Heart of England (1906), The Happy-Go-Lucky Morgans (1913), The Icknield Way (1913) and In Pursuit of Spring (1914) and biographies of several literary figures. It was only in 1914 that Thomas wrote his first 'real' poem; over the next two years he wrote over one hundred and forty.

In 1915 Thomas joined the Artists' Rifles, was commissioned second lieutenant in 1916 and volunteered for service overseas. He was killed in action on 9 April 1917 during the battle of Arras. His Poems (1917), Last Poems (1918) and Collected Poems (1920) therefore all appeared posthumously. His wife Helen wrote of their time together in As It Was (1926) and World Without End (1931).

Edward and Helen Thomas Manuscripts

This is the main group of Edward Thomas papers at the National Library of Wales. It comprises 28 volumes and includes Edward Thomas' diaries, 1895-1917 (including the final War Diary); correspondence of Edward and Helen, 1896-1917; correspondence of Edward with his father-in-law James Ashcroft Noble, 1896-1917; some prose works, 1906-1912; and autograph drafts of poems, 1914-1917, all of which were published in The Collected Poems of Edward Thomas, ed. by R. George Thomas (Oxford, 1978).

The Catalogue is available to view online. However, NLW MSS 22900-21 and 23077C are described more fully in the original schedule Edward & Helen Thomas Manuscripts (1993), and are indexed in greater detail in the Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003). Both volumes are available to view in the Reading Room at the Library.

Other Manuscripts

For other papers of Edward Thomas see:

For other papers of Helen Thomas see:

Other papers at the Library relating to Edward Thomas include:

Digital Gallery

A selection of the manuscripts have been digitised:

Further Reading