PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Monthly Carcanet Books
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Kei Miller Sometimes I Consider the Names of Places Kyoo Lee's A Close Up and Marjorie Perloff's response John McAuliffe City of Trees Don Share on Whitman's Bicentenary Jeffrey Wainwright and Jon Glover on Geoffrey Hill's Gnostic

This review is taken from PN Review 50, Volume 12 Number 6, July - August 1986.

AS IT WAS R. George Thomas, Edward Thomas: A Portrait (OUP) £12.95

The basis of this tactful and balanced biography is the collection of previously unpublished letters made available to the author by Edward Thomas's widow some years before her death; drawing heavily but discerningly on this correspondence, Professor Thomas has provided the fullest account to date of his subject's complex personality and his remarkable but entirely logical development as a writer.

Edward and Helen Thomas agreed early in their relationship on the importance of complete honesty in their dealings with one another, and the letters which passed between them during their protracted courtship and in the first few years of their marriage are particularly revealing. Although, as Professor Thomas points out, the 'periods of morbid melancholy, or brooding, formed a tiny part of the complete man [his friends] recalled', there can be no doubt at all that Edward's melancholic tendencies were actually quite pronounced from a relatively early stage in his life. Various factors were involved but, reading the letters, one senses particularly strongly the inner tension of a man in whom the consciousness of visionary potential operated in unfailingly close conjunction with a chastening awareness of human limitations generally, and of his own inadequacies in particular.

If the obsessive self-analysis of Edward's early letters is less attractive than Helen's ingenuous affirmations of a love founded on 'purity', it was nevertheless, as this biography makes clear, an essential element in his movement towards the subtle but rigorous truths of the poetry. By insisting upon 'the long ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image