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Name: Martin Brooks

PhD: English

Thesis Title: Edward Thomas' Romanticism


Thesis Description:

My thesis demonstrates that the poetry of Edward Thomas (1878-1917) responds to his critical prose on the lives and works of British Romantic-period poets. These are poets who mostly wrote in the period 1785-1825. It shows that his prose observes different styles of expression in Romantic-period poetry. His poetry presents versions of these styles, adapting them so that they can occur in his lyric poetry and articulate the values of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century ‘Romanticism’.

The first chapter surveys late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century literary criticism. It demonstrates that writers described an ongoing ‘Romanticism’. This ‘Romanticism’ is not a reference to any or all of the Romantic-period poets. It is a belief that art should show artists’ thoughts, and that it should use new and personal forms to do so. The chapter demonstrates that poets could consider lyric poetry as an expression of ‘Romanticism’. It then shows Thomas’ literary theories. It demonstrates that these theories show the values of ‘Romanticism’ with their emphasis on the importance of lyric poetry.

The second chapter discusses how Thomas’ poetry responds to his critical prose on the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). It looks at how his poetry presents adapted and counterpart versions of three styles that his prose interprets in Coleridge’s poetry: the strange and dreamlike expressions of ‘Kubla Khan’ (1798), the disconnections from nature in ‘Dejection: An Ode’ (1802), and the attitudes to war in ‘Fears in Solitude’ (1798).

The third chapter demonstrates that his poetry includes a counterpart style to his writing on the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). In Shelley’s poetry, Thomas writes, descriptions of objects in the world represent speakers’ thoughts and emotions. Thomas calls this style of description ‘symbolical’. The chapter shows how Thomas’ poetry has an equivalent ‘symbolical’ style where particular parts of scenes stand out and represent the speakers’ thought.

The fourth chapter shows how speakers in Thomas’ poetry can represent themselves as different from the world they inhabit, and how they can show the world replacing their personality. The chapter presents this style of poetry in relation to his critical study of John Keats (1795-1821), Keats (1916). The chapter sets the study in the context of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Keats criticism and shows how it distinctively stresses ‘the brooding intensity of his receptiveness’. The chapter then shows how Thomas’ poetry includes a comparable receptiveness.

Together, these chapters show that Thomas’ poetry responds to his prose writings on Romantic-period poetry. It presents styles that his prose associates with Romantic-period poetry. They become different ways for his poems’ speakers to express their thoughts. When these styles become part of his lyric poetry, they articulate Edward Thomas’ ‘Romanticism’.


Supervisors and Institutions:

Professor L. Pratt and Dr S. Davison (U. of Nottingham) and Dr M. Rawlinson (U. of Leicester).


Peer-Reviewed Publications:

Select Conference Papers:

  • 'Modern Soldiers and Old Cogitari: Isaac Rosenberg's Melancholy Military and References to Keats'. The 13th Conference of the International Robert Graves Society. St. John's College, University of Oxford. 10 September 2016.
  • ‘“As nought had been and nought would be again”: The Importance of John Clare to Edward Thomas’ Poetry’. The Edward Thomas Centenary Conference. Cardiff University. 19 April 2017.
  • ‘Edward Thomas’ WWI “Home” Poems: Marching, Walking, and Wartime Wordsworth’. Two-Way Tickets: Travel, Home, and War. Wolfson College, University of Oxford. 20 June 2017. At 'Two-Way Tickets' I chaired the panel 'Home and Homecoming'.

Event Organisation:

Other Research Interests:

  • Modern Poetry
  • Romantic Poetry
  • Translation Studies
  • Health Humanities
  • The Letters, Prose, and Legal Troubles of John Gibson Lockhart




University email address:


Twitter: @BrMM3C


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