Edward Thomas was born to Welsh parents in London, and educated at St Paul's School and Lincoln College, Oxford. His father expected Edward to enter the Civil Service, but he was determined to make a living as a writer. Most of his time was taken up by journalism and books commissioned by various publishers, who paid him by the number of words he wrote. Much of it was unrewarding work, and Thomas became increasingly prone to depression and ill-health.
His spirits were lifted in 1913 by a meeting with the American poet Robert Frost, who encouraged him to write poetry. Thomas published several poems in journals under the pseudonym Edward Eastaway, and by 1915 when he enlisted to fight in the Great War, he had already made considerable development as a poet. He arrived in France in 1917 and was killed in action at Arras soon afterwards.
Unlike other famous 'war poets' such as Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon, Thomas did not concentrate directly on the experience of war in his poetry. The love of the English countryside which informs much of his work in prose is expressed with great lyrical beauty and subtlety in poems such as 'Celandine', 'Melancholy' and 'Adlestrop'. His close friend Walter de la Mare wrote a foreword for the posthumous Collected Poems.