Edward Thomas on the Countryside
Edward Thomas was born in Lambeth, London, in 1878, and educated at St Paul's College and Lincoln College, Oxford. Thomas voluntarily enlisted in the Artists' Rifles in 1915 and was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1916. He was killed in action at Arras on 9 April 1917. Since his death his reputation as a poet has grown steadily, but the prose work is largely inaccessible or unknown. His books have often been dismissed as bread-and-butter work by a poet who was able to blossom only when his soldier’s pay released him from wage-earning.
Roland Gant has made a selection from Thomas’s writings on country matters which will be welcomed not only by admirers of his poetry but also by readers interested in pre-1914 rural life. Drawing on nearly twenty books such as The South Country, Wales, The Heart of England and volumes of essays, Gant has arranged his extracts under the headings ‘Roads and Footpaths’, ‘The Lie of the Land’, ‘Figures in the Landscape’ and ‘Through the Year’. Interspersed are poems that often distil the theme of a prose description and show that Thomas’s strength as a poet is more than equal to his creative achievement as a writer of prose.
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