Fonds GB 0210 RGTHOS - R. George Thomas (Edward Thomas) Research Papers

Identity area

Reference code



R. George Thomas (Edward Thomas) Research Papers


  • 1897-1967 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

3 boxes (0.081 cubic metres)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Professor Richard George Thomas, literary critic and editor, was born in the mining village of Pontlotyn, Glamorgan, in 1914. He was educated at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff, where he graduated in English. Following a period spent in Iceland during the Second World War, he returned to Wales in 1946 to teach medieval and eighteenth century literature, and was appointed Professor of English Language and Literature at University College Cardiff, in 1967. His main academic interest was the study of the work of the poet Edward Thomas (1878-1917). His monograph, Edward Thomas, in the Writers of Wales series, was published in 1972, followed by his edition of The Collected Poems of Edward Thomas (Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1978), Edward Thomas: A Portrait (Oxford University Press, 1985), and Edward Thomas: Selected Letters (Oxford University Press, 1995). R. George Thomas died at Cardiff, 23 February 2001.

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.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Dr R. George Thomas; Llanishen, Cardiff; Donation; 1994-1995

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Research papers of Professor R. George Thomas, mostly comprising typescript transcripts and photocopies of letters (the originals of which are held in English, American and Canadian repositories, and in private hands) from the poet Edward Thomas (1878-1917). The letters were assembled by R. George Thomas in preparation for his edition of Edward Thomas: Selected Letters (Oxford University Press, 1995), and are duplicates of copies deposited in the Edward Thomas Archive at Cardiff University.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All records donated to NLW have been retained..


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged into eight files as received by the donor; original order within each file.

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 Edward Thomas copyright can be found at (viewed July 2010).

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

The original letters are held by various repositories in England, USA and Canada, and some in private hands.

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Diaries and manuscripts of Edward Thomas, and correspondence with his wife Helen, are in NLW (NLW MSS 21750, 21859, 22900-21, 23077, 23103, 23222, 23299-23300, 23695); photocopies of letters from Edward to Helen Thomas, 1896-1917, deposited at the University of Wales College of Cardiff Library are also held at NLW (NLW Facs 759); Further correspondence and papers of Edward Thomas are held in the following repositories: the Archive and Manuscript Collections of the University of Wales, Cardiff; the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library of the University of Texas at Austin; the Lincoln College Library of Oxford University; the University of British Columbia Library; the Bodleian Library's Special Collections and Western Manuscripts in Oxford University; Eton College; the Palace Green Section of Durham University Library's Archives and Special Collections; the King's School, Canterbury; Wandsworth Local History Service Library; and the British Library's Manuscript Collections.

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Title based on contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


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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

July 2010.


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Edward Thomas: Selected Letters, ed. by R. George Thomas (Oxford University Press, 1995); obituary of R. George Thomas in The Independent, 28 Feb. 2001

Archivist's note

Compiled by Alwyn J. Roberts.

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