Thomas, Edward

Thomas, Edward, 1878–1917, English poet, b. London, studied at Oxford. Forced to earn a living for his young family, Thomas began his literary career writing prose: dozens of essays on a wide array of subjects 20 books, including a novel and many on travel and nature, e.g., The South Country, 1909, that deepened the genre critical studies of Keats, Swinburne, Pater, and others and hundreds of book reviews. Discerning and a superb stylist, he was a particularly fine poetry critic. His friendship with Robert Frost , which began in 1912, encouraged him to write poetry, and army life during World War I freed him from the drudgery of prose composition. His first volume, Six Poems (1916), mostly pastoral verse, was published shortly before he was killed in the battle of Arras. A poet of the English countryside, Thomas wrote his 144 poems in the last two years of his life. His gentle verse was marked by a clarity of observation combined with a use of natural speech rhythms that brought him great critical acclaim, especially among his fellow poets.

See his collected poems (1920, rev. ed. 1936) Selected Letters (1996), ed. by R. G. Thomas G. Cuthbertson and L. Newlyn, ed., Edward Thomas: Prose Writings: A Selected Edition (2 vol., 2011–) biographies by R. P. Eckert (1937) and M. Hollis (2012) studies by W. Cooke (1970) and H. Coombes (1956, repr. 1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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