Fonds GB 0210 MSEDWMAS - Edward and Helen Thomas manuscripts

Edward Thomas: War Diary Edward Thomas: Diary entries A Castle of Cloud Fragments of journals, &c. Edward Thomas: Diary Edward Thomas: Diary Edward Thomas: Diary Edward Thomas letters to Helen Thomas Edward Thomas letters to Helen Thomas Edward Thomas letters to Helen Thomas Poems Draft poems The Heart of England Edward Thomas letters to Helen Thomas Draft poems

Identity area

Reference code



Edward and Helen Thomas manuscripts


  • 1895-[?1978] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

28 volumes.

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Edward Thomas (1878-1917), poet and writer, was born Philip Edward Thomas in Lambeth to Welsh-born parents on 3 March 1878. He was educated at St Paul's School, London and Lincoln College, Oxford. Having left St Paul's, Thomas studied for the civil service examination, a move which expressed parental ambition rather than his own as he had reacted against the wordly views of his father, who worked for the Board of Trade and was prominent in Liberal politics. He was encouraged in his early literary ambitions by the critic James Ashcroft Noble and Thomas's first book, The Woodland Life, inspired by his love of the natural world, appeared as early as 1897. Thomas married Noble's daughter Helen (1877-1967) in 1899 and, having graduated from Lincoln College in 1900, made a precarious living as a literary reviewer for the Daily Chronicle whilst also writing essays, anthologies, guidebooks and folk-tales. He also published further books, including The Heart of England (1906), as well as biographical writings, most notably those on Richard Jefferies (1909), Maurice Maeterlinck (1911), Algernon Charles Swinburne (1912) and Walter Pater (1913). This period also produced his autobiographical works The Happy-Go-Lucky Morgans (1913), The Icknield Way (1913) and In Pursuit of Spring (1914). Possibly from an overwhelming feeling that his creativity was shackled and frustrated, Thomas at this time suffered recurrent physical and psychological breakdowns which once took him to the brink of suicide. It was not until 1914 that he wrote his first 'real' poem, entitled 'Up in the Wind'. The wartime collapse of the literary market at last afforded Thomas more time to write poetry; over a space of two years, he was to write over one hundred and forty poems. In 1915 Thomas joined the Artists' Rifles; he was commissioned second lieutenant in 1916 and volunteered for service overseas. In April 1917 he was killed during the first hour of the battle of Arras in northern France and buried the following day on the outskirts of the town; he therefore did not live to see the publication of his Poems (1917) (under his pseudonym Edward Eastaway), nor the subsequent Last Poems (1918) and Collected Poems (1920). His wife Helen wrote of their time together in As It Was (1926) and World Without End (1931). Thomas numbered amongst his poetical and literary influences Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, W. B. Yeats, D. H. Lawrence, Walter de la Mare, and W. H. Davies.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Archival history

NLW MSS 22900-22918 were purchased from a collector who had previously acquired them from Helen Thomas in about 1960; they were subject to a ten-year embargo and became available in 1992.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

NLW MS 10617B: Rev. Jesse Berridge; Chelmsford; Donation; March 1936.
NLW MS 21750D: Friends of NLW; Donation; November 1981; B1981/17.
NLW MSS 22900-18: Anonymous seller, per Sotheby's; Purchase; December 1981; B1981/19.
NLW MS 21859C: Anonymous seller, per Sotheby's; Purchase; August 1982; B1982/23.
NLW MS 22919B: David J. Holmes; Philadelphia; Purchase (with contributions from the Edward Thomas Fellowship); February 1992; B1992/5.
NLW MSS 22920-1A: Edward Cawston Thomas, grandson of Edward and Helen Thomas; Donation; March 1992; A1992/41.
NLW MS 23077C: David Thomas, nephew of Edward and Helen Thomas; Newhaven; Donation; November 1992; A1992/197.
NLW MS 24030i & iiA: Mrs Jennifer Thomas; Halesworth, Suffolk; Donation; August 2012; 006297149.
NLW MS 24064C: Gorringes Auction House; Lewes; Purchased at auction (with NLW ex 2879 and NLW MS 24044D, ff. 12-14), lot 30; 2-3 July 2014; 006765587.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers, in the main diaries and correspondence, 1895-[?1978], of Edward and Helen Thomas, comprising diaries of Edward Thomas, 1895-1917; correspondence, 1896-1917, of Edward Thomas and his wife Helen; correspondence, 1895-1896, of Edward Thomas and his father-in-law James Ashcroft Noble; autograph drafts of poems, 1914-1917, by Edward Thomas, all of which were published in The Collected Poems of Edward Thomas, ed. by R. George Thomas (Oxford, 1978); the original manuscript of The Heart of England (London, 1906); an autograph prose piece, 1912, entitled 'A Castle of Cloud'; and fragments of Edward Thomas's journals, memoranda, photographs, etc., 1895-1916.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 10617B, 21750D, 21859C, 22900-21, 23077C, 24030A, 24064C.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions set out in information provided when applying for their Readers' Tickets, whereby the reader shall become responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to any processing by them of personal data obtained from modern records held at the Library.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply. Information regarding the ownership of Edward Thomas and Helen Thomas copyright can be found at (viewed February 2012).

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

NLW MSS 22900-21 and 23077C are described more fully in NLW, Edward & Helen Thomas Manuscripts (1993):
The contents of NLW MSS 22900-21, 23077C are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003).

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Photocopies of the letters in NLW MSS 22914-8C are available in NLW Facs 754-758, and of the letters in NLW MS 22919B in NLW Facs 927.

Related units of description

For other papers of Edward Thomas see also NLW MSS 16098E, f. 400 (letter to a Mr Bullen), 21818E, f. 47 (letter to Gwili), 22003E, ff. 83-89 (letters to J. B. Pinker), 23222B (letters to O. M. Edwards), 23695E (letters to Jesse Berridge), 23981E, ff. 60-70, 24044D, ff. 12-14, 24122-3 (Jack Haines (Edward Thomas) manuscripts); NLW ex 2879; NLW, R. George Thomas (Edward Thomas) Research Papers (transcripts and photocopies of Edward Thomas letters held in various repositories and in private hands); and NLW, Geoffrey Woolley Papers C1 (letters to William Henry Hudson). For further correspondence of Helen Thomas see NLW MSS 23103D, 23299-300.
Further papers of Edward Thomas are located at the following locations: Cardiff University, Special Collections and Archives, Edward Thomas Archive; Austin, University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center; Oxford University, Lincoln College Library; Vancouver, University of British Columbia, Library; Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts; Eton College; University of Durham, Library, Archives and Special Collections, Palace Green Section; Canterbury, King's School; Wandsworth Local History Service Library; and London, British Library, Manuscript Collections.

Publication note

Daniel Huws, 'Edward Thomas's private writing' in The Times Literary Supplement, 20 March 1992.

Notes area


Title based on contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

March 2009 and August 2018.


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Vol. 8 (Aberystwyth, 1999); Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Vol. 9 (Aberystwyth, 2003); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography WWW site.

Archivist's note

Description compiled by Bethan Ifan for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS, and revised by Rhys M. Jones.

Accession area