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Close Reading Competition

Year 12 & 13 Close Reading Competition

We are very excited to announce the launch of the inaugural Edward Thomas Fellowship Year 12 & 13 Close Reading Competition.

The Close Reading Competition enables students to learn about Thomas’s poetry, develop their analytical reading and writing skills, as well as offering the chance to win a £100 cash prize.

Students do not need to be studying AS/A Level English – it is open to all students in Year 12 & 13.

Membership Support

The Fellowship Committee kindly invites all members and non-members to share the below Competition Form with students that may be interested.

For any teachers, we would be particularly grateful for your support in sharing this with your students ahead of the Summer holidays. The Competition Form is also available here as a pdf.

Please direct all queries regarding the competition to Robert Woolliams (

Competition Form:


The Edward Thomas Fellowship’s principle aim is to keep the poet’s work widely read and enjoyed. To that end, the Fellowship is running a close reading competition with a £100 cash prize for students currently in Years 12-13.

The close reading competition is an excellent opportunity for you to explore a poem by one of English Literature’s most celebrated poets and thereby deepen your understanding of early twentieth century poetry.  If you’re thinking about studying English at university, it’s also a great way to enrich your UCAS application.

Edward Thomas’s poem “Adlestrop”…

  is one of the best loved and most enigmatic poems in English poetry

 was written in 1915 during World War I, but celebrates the serenity of a railway station in the English village of Adlestrop in 1914, immediately before the outbreak of war

 draws upon the natural environment to evoke a world that the war seemed to destroy.

Edward Thomas…

… is regarded as an important poet of the First World War

… wrote 144 poems between 1914-1917 before his death in action in the First World War

… takes a different approach to other First World War poets such as Wilfred Owen

… is concerned with the natural environment – highly relevant to discussions about climate change today.

Key Entry Details

The Poem: You can read “Adlestrop” below

Word count: 500 words minimum, 800 words maximum

Deadline for submitting entry: 5pm, Friday 30th September 2022

Submit entries by email: to Robert Woolliams (

Results announced: Friday 3rd February 2023.


  • First: £100, publication in Edward Thomas Fellowship Newsletter, year free membership of Edward Thomas Fellowship
  • Two Runners up: £50
  • Shortlist: shortlisted students named in Edward Thomas Fellowship newsletter and on social media pages (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).


The Judges

This year the competition will be judged by two leading scholars of Edward Thomas: Professor Lucy Newlyn and Professor Francis O’Gorman.


Some Tips

Your close reading of “Adlestrop” should:

  • Explore what you find interesting about “Adlestrop”
  • Look closely at what is special and distinctive about “Adlestrop”
  • Have a clear sense of the poem as a whole, with discussion moving between the detail and the bigger picture
  • Be written in a clear and simple style, using technical literary vocabulary when relevant
  • Focus principally on a close reading of “Adlestrop”, but you may refer to other Edward Thomas poems and poems by other poets.



Yes. I remember Adlestrop,
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lowly fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.