R. S. Thomas: Serial Obsessive

Posted on 13 March 2013
RS Thomas

Born in Cardiff in 1913, R. S. Thomas enjoyed a writing career spanning five decades, and is recognised as one of the leading poets of modern Wales.

He graduated from Bangor University and received theological training in Llandaff before being ordained as an Anglican priest in 1937. Although he had written poetry at school, it was during his time as Rector at Manafon, near Welshpool in rural Montgomeryshire, that he first began to study Welsh and wrote seriously, publishing his first three volumes of poetry. Though his poetry would mainly be written in English, he also produced Welsh verse, and became a passionate voice supporting the language. Always controversial, he achieved notoriety as the ‘Ogre of Wales’, a Welsh extremist, and a poet of serial obsessions.

As one of R.S. Thomas’s finest critics and the executor of his unpublished literary estate, in his new book Professor M. Wynn Thomas explores the idées fixes that possessed and fuelled the poet’s fiercely intense imagination, including Wales, his family, his best-known character Iago Prytherch, and of course, his elusive God.  These familiar obsessions are questioned to bring his poetry into startling new relief, revealing a complex, contradictory and fascinating man, regarded by some as “The Solzhenitsyn of Wales” and “a true Son of Saunders”.

R. S. Thomas wrote over twenty volumes of poetry, was nominated for a Nobel Prize, and among many literary accolades was awarded the Queen's Medal for Poetry.  Equally prolific as a campaigner, after retiring from church ministry in 1978 he became more political and active in the campaigns that were important to him, becoming a fierce advocate of Welsh nationalism.

R. S. Thomas died in 2000, but his legacy lives on, helped by the study centre which bears his name at Bangor University.

Speaking about his subject matter, author Professor Thomas explains: “…this study uncovers a poet not of a few fixations but of fruitfully multiple obsessions. The image of him as the ogre of Wales and the pest of God is greatly complicated by a glimpse of him as a poet of war, of family, of painting, of loneliness and of searing self-examination.”

On Thursday the 18th of April, The University of Wales Press will host a special event to mark the publication of R.S. Thomas: Serial Obsessive, by Professor M. Wynn Thomas, and the centenary of R.S. Thomas’s birth. The Book launch will take place at 7.00pm at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea.

For further details, and to send RSVPs, please contact Catrin Harries, University of Wales Press: c.harries@press.wales.ac.uk / 02920496899

/Ends

R. S. Thomas: Serial Obsessive by M Wynn Thomas (February 2013)
£75.00 |HB | 9780708325704 / £19.99 |PB | 9780708326138
8 Colour and 8 Black and white images

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