A Study Centre, dedicated to Edward Thomas, featuring over 1800 books by and about Edward Thomas collected by the late Tim Wilton-Steer, has been opened in Petersfield Museum. Access to the Study Centre is available by prior appointment.
Thomas, the son of civil service clerk Philip Henry Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Thomas, was born in Lambeth, an area of present-day south London previously in Surrey. He was educated at Battersea Grammar School, St Paul's School in London. He was a history scholar at Lincoln College, Oxford between 1898 and 1900. His family were mostly Welsh. In June 1899 he married Helen Berenice Noble (1878–1967), in Fulham, while still an undergraduate, and determined to live his life by the pen. He then worked as a book reviewer, reviewing up to 15 books every week. He was already a seasoned writer by the outbreak of war, having published widely as a literary critic and biographer as well writing on the countryside. He also wrote a novel, The Happy-Go-Lucky Morgans (1913), a "book of delightful disorder".
From 1905, Thomas lived with his wife Helen and their family at Elses Farm near Sevenoaks, Kent. He rented to Davies a tiny cottage nearby, and nurtured his writing as best he could. On one occasion, Thomas arranged for the manufacture, by a local wheelwright, a makeshift wooden leg for Davies.
Even though Thomas thought that poetry was the highest form of literature and regularly reviewed it, he only became a poet himself at the end of 1914 when living at Steep, East Hampshire, and initially published his poetry under the name Edward Eastaway. The American poet Robert Frost, who was living in England at the time, in particular encouraged Thomas (then more famous as a critic) to write poetry, and their friendship was so close that the two planned to reside side by side in the United States. Frost's most famous poem, "The Road Not Taken", was inspired by walks with Thomas and Thomas's indecisiveness about which route to take.