Item NLW MS 23981E, ff. 62-70. - Letters relating to Edward Thomas,

Identity area

Reference code

NLW MS 23981E, ff. 62-70.


Letters relating to Edward Thomas,


  • 1917, 1970. (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

9 ff.

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

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 1896. 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 the same year 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 brief 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.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Dominic Winter; South Cerney; Purchased at auction, lot 406; 13 December 2012; 006374172.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Three letters to [Thomas] Seccombe from Eleanor Farjeon, 18 April 1917 (ff. 62-65), John Freeman, 19 April 1917 (f. 66), and Edward Garnett, 19 April 1917 (ff. 67-68), concerning the death of Edward Thomas at Arras on 9 April 1917 and Seccombe's letter of tribute published in the Times Literary Supplement, 19 April 1917, p. 189.
Also included is a letter, 1 April 1970, from Myfanwy Thomas, daughter of Edward and Helen Thomas, to a Mr Reynold, discussing collecting her father's books and the Edward and Helen Thomas Window Fund (f. 69); and a typescript copy, [20 cent, third ΒΌ], of a letter, dated 3 August 1908, from Edward Thomas to his literary agent C. F. Cazenove (the original letter was lot 402 in the Dominic Winter auction, 13 December 2012) (f. 70).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged chronologically at NLW.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply. Information regarding the ownership of Eleanor Farjeon, John Freeman, Edward Garnett and Myfanwy Thomas copyright can be found at (viewed February 2012).

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Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

See also NLW MS 23981E, ff. 60-61.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents.


A prospectus for The Engraved Window to Edward and Helen his Wife by Laurence Whistler, offered as part of lot 406 in the Dominic Winter auction, appears to have been mislaid by the auction house.


Preferred citation: NLW MS 23981E, ff. 62-70.

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Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

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Dates of creation revision deletion




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  • Text: NLW MS 23981E, ff. 62-70.