Edward Thomas – A Miscellany

Edward Thomas – A Miscellany, selected by Anna Stenning, is a splendid new anthology of some of the prose and poetry of the well-known country writer who died tragically young – just over a century ago – at the Battle of Arras in the First World War.

This handsome edition in the Rucksack Editions series by Galileo Publishers has been specially produced in a small but readable format with a tough chunky cover so that it might be packed in a knapsack and read on walks – though I’ve been dipping into it as a bedside book.

Readers of past blogs will know that I’m a great enthusiast for the works of Edward Thomas. Not just because he was a country walker of some repute, but also because he captured the British countryside at such a crucial moment in time – when rural England was going through a fundamental change, when the population had become mostly urban, and there was a great cultural desire to records many aspects of the rural way of life.

Lovers of Thomas’s work will find some old favourites in this volume, but a lot of material that isn’t quite so familiar – arranged in chapters with inviting titles, such as Footpaths and Roads, The Historic Landscape, The Journey, Inns and Sleep, Folk Traditions etc.

If you don’t know Thomas’s work this is an admirable introduction, featuring a good spread of his poetry as well as some excellent excerpts of his prose work. Long-standing admirers, such as myself, enjoyed discovering old favourites and it was pleasing to be reminded of works that had slipped out of my memory.

There’s a very good introduction by Dr Stenning, with a brief biography of Edward Thomas.

Compiling an anthology isn’t as easy as you might imagine. I’m currently doing one myself, and have found that out.

This really is a work to go out and buy and to be dipped into.

Recommended, available from online sites and good bookshops.

Rucksack Editions have companion editions to this featuring work by John Muir and Dorothy and William Wordsworth.

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