Sunday, 9 May 2021

Julian Thomas (1889 -1948) – British - brother of Edward Thomas

With grateful thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron, to Julian’s Granddaughter, Julia Maxted of the Edward Thomas Fellowship, to Jelly Jones via Twitter, to Deb Fisher and Phil Caradice of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship and to members of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum for their kind help in finding further information about Julian

Julian Thomas photographer
Julian was born in Battersea, London, on 27th July 1889.   His parents were Philip Henry Thomas, a Civil Servant, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Thomas, nee Townsend.   Julian’s siblings were: Philip Edward, b. 1878, Ernest Henry, b. 1880. Theodore C., b. 1882, Reginald Townsend, b. 1884, and Oscar, b. 1886. The family were of Welsh origin.  Julian was educated at Upper Tooting High School, leaving school when he was fifteen to join the Civil Service as a clerk.

In June 1914, Julian married Maud Mary Ridlington in Wandsworth.  They went on to have the following children:  Cecily.Marendaz, b. April 1916,  Edward Eastaway,  b. May 1917, David Christopher Treharne, b. December 1919 and Honor Elizabeth Caenwen, b. April 1927.  

Julian Thomas died on 30th July 1948.  

His Granddaughter, Julia, who contacted me following my request for help via Twitter, sending me this lovely photograph, tells me that her Grandfather died of Pneumonia following an operation, in The County Hospital, Wolverton Avenue, Kingston-upon-Thames.  Probate was granted to his widow, Maud Mary Thomas.  They were still living at 133 Maple Road, Surbiton, Surrey.  (Source:  Ancestry).  Julian was buried in Morden Cemetery, Merton. 

Julian’s Granddaughter, Julia picks up the story:  “As far as we know he wrote just 2 poems, ‘In Memoriam: Edward Thomas’ published in ‘In Memoriam” by James Guthrie (1919) and also in ‘Elected Friends’ compiled by Anne Harvey (Enitharmon Press: 1997) and ‘Nothing has changed’ published in “The English Review”, 30 April 1920. 

He was a great champion, along with Helen Thomas, of Edward’s work and wrote the introduction to  "The Childhood of Edward Thomas" (Faber and Faber, London, 1938).

You can find out more about Julian in 2 articles written by my uncle, Edward Eastaway Thomas in the August 1995 and January 1996 issues of the Edward Thomas Newsletter (issues 33 and 34) . These can be found online on the Edward Thomas Fellowship website:

You will find the second poem published in issue 34 for the first time since 1920! A book by Richard Emeny – “Edward Thomas:  A Life in Pictures” (Enitharmon Editions, 2017) -  is very strong on his family and circle of friends.”

Here are the two poems written by Julian Thomas that have been published:

"In Memoriam : Edward Thomas" 

No more can I love spring though cuckoo 's here, 

Since I mourned you before that note was heard, 

Who there beyond the guns forgot cold fear 

To see the nesting of a homely bird. 

Amid the late snows of that dreadful year 

Swift thy soul passed into the written word ; 

Never to die whilst English names are dear 

And England breeds the men you charactered. 

A light rain ceases, clear one chiff-chaff sings ; 

Fresh drops are glistening on each green-tipped tree. 

Fair spring you loved the saddest memory brings 

Of Eastertide, when you rode forth with me 

In quest of something we were not to find. 

Perhaps another world has proved more kind. 

Julian Thomas. 

From : Jacqueline Theodore Trotter, Editor.- “Valour and Vision, Poems of the War, 1914 – 1918” (Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1920), pp 102 -103 – available to read as a free download on Archive

“Nothing is Changed” by Julian Thomas first published in “The English Review” Magazine in April 1920.

The sun will make the old trees young,

Uncurl the fern.

To the hedge where last year’s nest was hung

The birds will return.

Some child will find the violet,

Sweet, lonely, blue.

On a March morning, crinkled, wet,

Crisp in the dew.

The fishing fleet in the Devon way

Will curve out to sea,

And the south-east wind will choose a day

To blow unpityingly.

Despite their million casualties,

Dense armies black

Stream home from where my soldier lies,

To earth given back.

Sorrow, like joy, is fugitive.

Man must drink deep

Of the cool draught Nature has to give;

Then soon to sleep.

From: The Edward Thomas Fellowship Newsletter No. 34, February 1996

The photograph of Julian Thomas was sent to me by his Granddaughter Julia Maxted and is in her private collection


Catherine W. Reilly.- “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 312 

Jacqueline Theodore Trotter, Editor.- “Valour and Vision, Poems of the War, 1914 – 1918” (Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1920), pp 102 -103 

Find my Past and Free BMD

“The English Review” was an English-language literary magazine published in London from 1908 to 1937. At its peak, the journal published some of the leading writers of its day.

NOTE:  I discovered Julian Thomas quite by chance while looking through Catherine W. Reilly's Bibliography for a Welsh poet called Abram Thomas. I was interested and had to find out more.  I put out an initial request for help via Twitter and Jelly Jones came to my rescue by telling Julia Maxted.  Julia is Julian's Granddaughter and she runs the Twitter account for the Edward Thomas Fellowship @EdwardThomasFS    Julia contacted me and very kindly sent me a photograph and a good deal of information about her Grandfather.  She has also helped me with editing this post, for which I am extremely grateful.