- Perpetuate the memory of Edward Thomas and foster interest in his life and works
- Foster a continuing relationship with the family and descendants of Edward Thomas in such a way that contributes to the aims and objectives of the Fellowship
- Conserve the countryside known to Edward Thomas and recorded in his writings
- Assist in the preservation of places and things associated with the writer
- Keep people in touch with relevant happenings and to arrange events which extend the Fellowship
Edward Thomas was born in London, from where he attended Oxford University. For most of his adult life, Edward Thomas lived by writing prose. He wrote topographical works, biographies, critical studies, one novel, some experimental prose pieces, essays about nature and a focus on english countryside poems and a vast number of book reviews.
These writings are of variable quality, but they are always at least worth reading, and some have been reprinted many times on their intrinsic merits, quite separate from how they might anticipate Thomas’s poetry: The Heart of England, The South Country and A Literary Pilgrim in England are such works.
Edward Thomas (drawn here by Robin Guthrie) is widely regarded as a major war poet and his posthumous influence on English poetry has been considerable. His poems were all written during the last few years of his life, before this remarkable flowering of genius was cut short by death in action at the First Battle of Arras. Edward Thomas’ poems remain as much alive now as when they were written, quietly yet surely capturing the essence of the English countryside which he knew through all his senses. He is the least rhetorical of poets, modestly sharing his experiences with his readers and leading them into the reality behind the words until, for instance, we too can almost hear ‘all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire’.
Early admirers of Edward Thomas’s words include American poet Robert Frost, Walter de la Mare and Ivor Gurney, and leading contemporary poets such as Ted Hughes, RS Thomas and Jeremy Hooker have acknowledged their debt to him.
The literary scholar FR Leavis singled him out as ‘an original poet of rare quality’ and Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009, nominated ‘Old Man’ by Edward Thomas as one of his favourite poems ‘because it so brilliantly proves, as do all his poems, that you can speak softly and yet let your voice carry a long way’.
Edward Thomas is one of sixteen world war poets commemorated in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, by pictorial windows in two parish churches, and by a sarsen boulder memorial on the hillside above Steep in Hampshire.
- Placing plaques on houses lived in by Edward Thomas
- Arranging recitals of Edward Thomas’s poetry and prose writings and performances of Elected Friends, Lights Out and For You, Helen, dramatic works based on his life and influence
- Placing a seat below the memorial stone on the Shoulder of Mutton Hill near Steep, in memory of Rowland and Cherry Watson whose enthusiasm led to the dedication of the memorial to Edward Thomas in 1937
- Encouraging publishers to reprint editions of Edward Thomas’s prose works
- Helping to institute in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey, a memorial to Edward Thomas and 16 other poets of the First World War
- Helping various bodies, including the Imperial War Museum, to stage exhibitions
- Campaigning against proposed developments which have threatened to damage the countryside known and loved by Edward Thomas
- Leading walks around places associated with Edward Thomas
- Organising seminars, concerts and other events
- Administering the Edward Cawston Thomas Memorial prize for original writing related to Edward Thomas and his concerns
- Publishing notecards and a CD
- Helping to establish the Edward Thomas Study Centre at Petersfield Museum – near Thomas’ home in Steep, Hampshire