File NLW MS 23695E - Edward Thomas letters to Jesse Berridge

Identity area

Reference code

NLW MS 23695E


Edward Thomas letters to Jesse Berridge


  • 1901-1985 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

144 ff.

Guarded and filed.

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 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.

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

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

John Wilson; Cheltenham; Purchase (with NLW ex 1858); May 1997; B1997/25.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Seventy-six letters, 1901-1917, from the poet Edward Thomas to his friend, the Rev. Jesse Berridge, containing personal and family news and references to the progress of his work (ff. 1-102; see The Letters of Edward Thomas to Jesse Berridge, ed. by Anthony Berridge (London, 1983); for letter no. 63 in the series see NLW MS 10617B).
Also included are transcripts of two letters from the poet to Mrs Edna Berridge, 1912 (ff. 103-104); one letter, [1940s], to Jesse Berridge from Helen Thomas, the poet's widow (f. 123), and two letters, 1957-1961, and a card, [?1950s], from Eleanor Farjeon (ff. 125, 127-128 verso), together with related papers, notably Berridge's draft of his short memoir of Edward Thomas, 1947 (ff. 106-111; see Letters, pp. 84-90), a typescript address, 1985, by R. George Thomas (ff. 131-134) and press cuttings, 1907-1978 (ff. 135-144), including articles by Helen Thomas, 1962-1963 (ff. 139-142). The collection also contains sketches by Edward Thomas, 1902 (f. 24 recto-verso), and references to W. H. Davies, 1905 (f. 52 recto-verso), Gordon Bottomley, 1907 (ff. 56, 58), Robert Frost, 1957 (f. 127), and to the First World War, 1915-1917 (ff. 92-102), together with a copy of a letter, 1947, to Rowland L. Watson, secretary of the Edward Thomas Memorial Committee (f. 105).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged as follows at NLW: Edward Thomas letters; other letters; related papers; press cuttings.

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 noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their Readers' Tickets.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply. Information regarding the ownership of Edward Thomas copyright can be found at (viewed May 2009).

Language of material

Script of material

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

A copy of The Letters of Edward Thomas to Jesse Berridge, ed. by Anthony Berridge (London, 1983), formerly in the possession of Wilfrid Berridge, and purchased with this manuscript, is now NLW ex 1858.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents.


Preferred citation: NLW MS 23695E.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


CAIRS System Control Number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Place 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

May 2009.


  • English



Archivist's note

Description revised by Rhys Morgan Jones.

Accession area