What Was Not Lost

The name of this book’s subject doesn’t appear in the text proper until page 14, and then as that of an adult attending the opening in London’s Bloomsbury of the Poetry Bookshop on January 8, 1913.  The celebratory crowd was salted with poets, beginning with the proprietor, Harold Monro, who intended to use the store to host readings and publish the occasional volume as well as sell books of and about poetry.  Besides Henry Newbolt, the bard of imperial loyalty who held the chair in poetry at the Royal Society of Literature, as what we would call the master of ceremonies, other poets on hand included Walter de la Mare, Lascelles Abercrombie, W.H. Davies, Edward Marsh (secretary to First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill), F.S. Flint, Wilfrid Gibson—next only to John Masefield the most popular younger English poet, who was living upstairs—and beside Flint on the staircase an American, Robert Frost, who at 38 had yet to publish a book of verse.

Possibly all the writers present, save Frost, knew Edward Thomas personally.  The 34-year-old writer, London-born to middle-class Welsh parents, was a literary journalist and author of books on contract, chiefly about traveling the English countryside, topics in English history, and literary figures of the recent past, such as A.C. Swinburne, Walter Pater, and Richard Jefferies.  He was considered the most perceptive reviewer of poetry of...

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