File NLW Facs 927 - Edward Thomas & James Noble: Letters

Identity area

Reference code

NLW Facs 927

Title

Edward Thomas & James Noble: Letters

Date(s)

  • 1895-1896 (Creation)

Level of description

File

Extent and medium

38 letters

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.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

MSS Dept, NLW (original letters purchased in February 1992 from David J. Holmes, Philadelphia, USA); 1008199

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Photocopies of NLW MS 22919B comprising twenty-nine letters, 1895-6, to Edward Thomas from James Ashcroft Noble (1844-96), father of Helen Thomas, and nine letters, 1896, from Thomas to Noble, mainly concerned with Thomas's writing and Noble's deteriorating health, and a copy of a photograph of Noble's study.

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No restrictions on access

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Normal laws of copyright apply

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

English

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Originals in NLW (NLW MS 22919B)

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Note

Preferred citation: NLW Facs 927

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number

vtls004045321

GEAC system control number

(WlAbNL)0000045321

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  • Text: NLW Facs 927.