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Books about Edward Thomas and Gordon Bottomley by William Cooke

The second volume of William Cooke’s books about Edward Thomas and Gordon Bottomley is now available

Following a collaboration between The Edward Thomas Fellowship and the author William Cooke, we are delighted to bring you An Unexpected Life, the follow-up edition to William’s recent Comrades in Letters about Edward Thomas and Gordon Bottomley.

                             AN UNEXPECTED LIFE

 An introduction by Richard Emeny

Gordon Bottomley was one of Edward Thomas’s closest friends.  Thomas relied on him for comments on his writing and for proof reading many of his books. Distance, they lived nearly 300 miles apart, meant that they saw each other infrequently.  Fortunately, that resulted in a large correspondence, some of which was published by the Fellowship in Comrades in Letters, edited by William Cooke, who also wrote a critical biography of Thomas in 1970.

While the bare outlines of Bottomley’s life are well known: born in Keighley and lived, a semi-invalid, in the South Lake District, much less detail of his work, family, travels and opinions is known, despite his widespread fame at the time as a poet and dramatist.  While declining to write an autobiography, he did prepare a detailed chronology.  This is detailed and includes many unknown events in his life and has never been published until now.  William Cooke is the Editor and provides a comprehensive commentary, also being the associated publisher.  The book is illustrated by little or unknown contemporary photographs.

Naturally, there are many references to Thomas, his writing, the friendship between the two men and his eventual fate and these enhance our knowledge.  There are also references to many of their mutual friends, for Bottomley was prolific in his friendships, so that Abercrombie, Trevelyan, Frost, Ransome, the Nash brothers and many others are all there.  In summary, the book provides a view of the cultural scene of the early and mid-twentieth century as well as a memoir of Bottomley, Thomas and their friends.

Richard Emeny – May 2023

Copies of An Unexpected Life, in a short run of 150 copies, are available to order from either Barbara Kinnes (Tudor Cottage, Gadsden Lane, Witley, Surrey, GU8 5RJ or email bjkinnes@gmail.com) or Jeremy Mitchell at the Edward Thomas Study Centre (c/o Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery, St Peters Road, Petersfield, GU32 3PF or email mitchjd.etf@outlook.com).

Copies cost £23.50 each including Royal Mail second class postage and packing.

Payment please by cheque with written order, payable to The Edward Thomas Fellowship, or by bank transfer with email order to:

Bank: HSBC Alton

Sort Code: 40-08-21

Account Name: The Edward Thomas Fellowship

Account No: 11250205

Ref: [Surname] Unexp Life

For a limited period, copies of both books – An Unexpected Life and Comrades in Letters, in uniform with each other – may be purchased as a ‘package’ at a discounted price of £28.50 (individual cost £47 when bought separately) inclusive of postage and packaging from either Barbara or Jeremy as above.

To purchase copies of either book at £20 each (or together for £25), without the need to pay postage and packaging, please visit the Edward Thomas Study Centre at Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery (GU32 3HX) on a Wednesday or Thursday between 10 am and 3.30 pm.

 

Comrades in Letters

       

The first book in this short series of two, written by William Cooke, is Comrades in Letters.

Gordon Bottomley and Edward Thomas were close friends for many years, from the late 1890s until Thomas’s death.  The fact that they lived about three hundred miles apart, Bottomley in the Lake District and Thomas in the South,  meant that they only met at long intervals, and that their friendship was conducted chiefly by correspondence.

Thomas regarded his rare visits to Bottomley and Emily, his wife, among the high moments of his life.

We are beneficiaries in that the many letters of Thomas to Bottomley have survived.  Those from Bottomley to Thomas are thought to have perished in the great bonfire that Thomas lit before enlisting.  Much of what survives was edited  by Professor R. George Thomas and published by OUP in 1968.

Now, William Cooke, author of ‘Edward Thomas, A Critical Biography,’  (Faber 1970) has found twenty-five unpublished letters, which he has set in context  in a new book published by the Fellowship.  Full of information, the volume charts the two men’s lives and worries, Bottomley’s as an invalid and Thomas’s as a professional, some would say hack, writer.
At over 270 pages long and full of information, this is a worthy and welcome addition to what we know of the two men.

___________________________________________________________________________

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to the book, written by the author:

“Bottomley carefully preserved the bulk of Thomas’s letters and eventually donated them to the Cardiff University College Library. There are 238 letters or postcards in all, dating from 1902 to 1917, and in 1968 Professor R. G. Thomas published 182 of them in Letters from Edward Thomas to Gordon Bottomley. A further fourteen letters were published in the Edward Thomas Fellowship Newsletter 59 (January 2008). It was long thought that only Bottomley’s last letter to Thomas had survived,[1] but 27 such letters were sold by G. F. Sims in the 1960s and are now held in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library.[2]

These are reproduced here along with a number of Thomas’s letters that relate to them so that for the first time the two-way nature of their correspondence can be read. Both men delighted in their fireside chats whenever they met, and the letters became a substitute for their talks, allowing us a flavour of their conversations, from the forthright expression of Thomas – ‘Good God, what a bitch Madame Georgette Leblanc Maeterlinck is’[3] – to the amused geniality of Bottomley: ‘How naughty you are about Madame Wilcox in the current issue of ‘Poetry and Monro’.”

[1]  Though I noted the existence of additional letters in my Edward
   Thomas: A Critical Biography (1970), p. 282.
[2]  Two of them are addressed to Helen Thomas by Bottomley and four to
Thomas by Emily Bottomley.
[3]  Thomas to Bottomley, 22 December 1910, ETFN 59, p. 37.

___________________________________________________________________________

Ordering and Despatch details

The book is currently available from the Fellowship at £23.50 per copy –  inclusive of postage and packing.

Please send your orders with payment to Barbara Kinnes at Tudor Cottage, Gasden Lane, Witley, Surrey GU8 5RJ, or by email to bjkinnes@gmail.com.

Our preferred order process is (i) send an email to Barbara with your order details and (ii) make payment by bank transfer.

The Fellowship’s bank details are:
Bank: HSBC
Sort Code: 40-08-21
Account Name: The Edward Thomas Fellowship
Account No: 11250205
Reference: [Surname] ‘Comrades’ (for example)

Cheques should be made out to The Edward Thomas Fellowship.

For a limited period, copies of both books – An Unexpected Life and Comrades in Letters, in uniform with each other – may be purchased as a ‘package’ at a discounted price of £28.50 (individual cost £47 when bought separately) inclusive of postage and packaging from either Barbara or Jeremy as above.

To purchase copies of either book at £20 each (or together for £25), without the need to pay postage and packaging, please visit the Edward Thomas Study Centre at Petersfield Museum and Art Gallery (GU32 3HX) on a Wednesday or Thursday between 10 am and 3.30 pm.