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A compelling exploration of the making of one of Britain's most influential First World War poets - Edward Thomas, who is perhaps best-remembered for his poem 'Adlestrop'.

Matthew Hollis's new biography is an account of Thomas's final five years and of his momentous and mutually-inspiring friendship with the American poet, Robert Frost.

Although an accomplished prose-writer and literary critic, Edward Thomas only began writing poetry in 1914, at the age of 36. Before then, Thomas had been tormented by what he regarded as the banality of his work, by his struggle with depression and by his marriage.

But as his friendship with Frost blossomed, Thomas wrote poem after poem, and his emotional affliction began to lift. The two friends began to formulate poetic ideas that would produce some of the most remarkable verse of the twentieth century. But the First World War put an ocean between them: Frost returned to the safety of New England, while Thomas stayed to fight for the Old. It is these roads taken - and those not taken - that are at the heart of this remarkable book, which culminates in Thomas's tragic death on Easter Monday 1917.

In today's episode, Edward Thomas and Robert Frost have an emotional encounter with a hostile gamekeeper, and Thomas sits down to write his first poem.

Read by Tobias Menzies

Abridged by Richard Hamilton

Produced by Emma Harding

'Now All Roads Lead to France' is published by Faber and Faber.

AUTHOR: Matthew Hollis is the author of a volume of poetry, 'Ground Water', which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, the Guardian First Book Award and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. This is his first prose book.

15 minutes

Last on

Wed 9 Oct 2013 14:45

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