Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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THOMAS , PHILIP EDWARD ( 1878 - 1917 ), poet ;

b. 3 March 1878 , at Lambeth , son of Philip Henry Thomas , Tredegar , clerk in the civil service , and Mary Elizabeth (née Townsend ) . He was educated at S. Paul's School and Lincoln College , Oxford , 1898-1900 , and early showed his love of the countryside , unspoiled people, and literature. He m. Helen Berenice Noble , 20 June 1899 ; there were three children: Mervyn , b. 1900 , Bronwen 1904 , and Helen Elizabeth Myfanwy 1910 . After a couple of years in London they moved to Bearsted , Kent , in 1901 , to the Weald ( Sevenoaks ), in 1903 , and to Ashford , near Petersfield , in 1906 . His first book, The Woodland Life , was published in 1897 , and from then till early 1915 he was the slave of wholesale reviewing and the commissioned book. Oxford , Beautiful Wales , Richard Jeffries , A Literary Pilgrim in England , Feminine Influence on the Poets , Borrow , Swinburne , Marlborough , are a few titles from these years. Overwork and literary frustration increased his melancholy and told on his health. Among his friends were ‘Dad’ Uzzell , W. H. Davies , Gordon Bottomley , Gwili ( John Jenkins , 1872 - 1936 , q.v.) , and Edward Garnett . In July 1915 he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles , was transferred to the Artillery later, went to France in Feb. 1917 , and was killed at Arras 9 April of that year. Some six months before enlisting he had begun, under the influence of Robert Frost and with the pen name ‘ Edward Eastaway ,’ to write the poems on which his fame now rests secure. His Collected Poems appeared in 1920 with a preface by Walter de la Mare . His poems and Helen Thomas 's As It Was and World Without End are his enduring memorials.

Sources:

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • The Childhood of Edward Thomas A Fragment of Autobiography , 1938 , 1938 ;
  • James Guthrie , To the Memory of Edward Thomas , Bognor Regis, 1937 , 1937 ;
  • John Moore , The Life and Letters of Edward Thomas , London, 1939 , 1939 ;
  • John Moore ‘A Note on Edward Thomas’in The Welsh Review , iv ( 1945 ), 166-78.

Author:

Professor Gwyn Jones, M.A., (1907-99), Aberystwyth / Cardiff

Published date: 1959