REVIEW by John Barnie

NWR Issue 100

RS Thomas, Serial Obsessive

by M Wynn Thomas

While he lived, those who admired RS Thomas’ poetry tended to avoid discussion of the contradictions that ran in fault lines through the poems and autobiographical prose, and by implication through the life. The feeling was perhaps that he had enemies enough ready to take him to task. After his death in 2000, however, it was possible to reassess his achievement in a less inhibited way, and since, for such an overtly reticent man, the life was so deeply embedded in the work that he might almost be considered a ‘confessional’ poet, it has been necessary to reconsider the portrait of ‘RS Thomas’ which he crafted in collections like The Echoes Return Slow, in the prose memoir Neb, and the journal Blwyddyn yn Llŷn.

This process began with Byron Rogers’ biography The Man Who Went into the West (2006) which managed to be irreverent and revelatory while remaining sympathetic to the man and sensitive to the achievement of the poetry...

Want to read the full article? Go to our online shop where you can buy an individual issue or take out a subscription to NWR, saving £3.98 on the cover price. Prices start at £16.99 for three issues via Direct Debit, including p+p (UK only).

Buy this book at


previous review: Séan Tyrone: A Symphony or Horrors
next review: Say Goodbye to the Boys


A brief note on copyright:all authors have given permission for their work to appear online on New Welsh Review's website. Copyright remains with the author. If you wish to reproduce part or all of any article then the permission of the author must be sought, and the author and New Welsh Review credited accordingly.

Contact us:Registered Office PO Box 170, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 1WZ - Telephone 00 (44) 1970 628410
© New Welsh Review Ltd, all rights reserved - Registered in England and Wales - Registered number: 02493828
Website design: mach2media and mopublications      Website development: Technoleg Taliesin Cyf.