The Man Who Went Into the West: The Life of R.S.Thomas Paperback – 1 Jul 2007
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‘A biography touched by genius’(Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)
‘A masterpiece’(Daily Express)
‘Byron Rogers’ lively and affectionate biography… is unexpectedly, even riotously funny… Warm, perceptive, ruthless, gossipy and admiring’(Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury The Sunday Times)
‘This book ought to win every award for which it is eligible’(Andrew Martin Sunday Telegraph)
About the Author
Byron Rogers is a Welsh journalist, essayist and biographer. He has contributed to The Times, the Sunday Telegraph and the Guardian, and was once a speech writer for the Prince of Wales. He is also author of seven books published by Aurum, including: An Audience With an Elephant, one of several collections of his journalism; The Man Who Went into the West, a critically acclaimed biography of the iconic twentieth century Welsh poet, R. S. Thomas, which was awarded the James Tait Black Prize for Biography in 2007; and The Last Englishman, a biography of the quintessential Englishman and celebrated novelist J.L. Carr. Me: The Authorised Biography, was published in 2009. His most recent book is Three Journeys. He currently lives in Northamptonshire and Carmarthen.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this truly compulsive and often very funny biography, Byron Rogers goes way beyond the previously documented Thomas, the man who raged against the evils of domestic appliances and who refused to have even a refrigerator in his house because of the noise it made, who spent years with his artist wife, Elsi, while barely speaking to her, who ranted from the pulpit at his parishioners, but who would hide behind hedges rather than speak to them if he encountered them in the open.
Here we see Thomas in his many paradoxes - the Christian pacifist who nonetheless supported Welsh Nationalism and the firebombing of English holiday cottages in the 1980s - (what is one death against the death of the whole Welsh nation?) for instance, the man who despite his cut glass Oxford English tones, and the private English education he gave his son, only stopped `going West' in his quest for Welshness when he met the sea at Aberdaron in 1967, `thinking, to use his own image, to kiss the feet of the Welsh rainbow'.
Despite the paradoxes, and Thomas himself was well aware of them, he was a poet of immense, sometimes breathtaking talent, and in this delightful and very `human' biography, Byron Rogers brings us to a far greater understanding of the man and his passions. To read it is to be suffused with a sudden and urgent desire to revisit and reassess the work of this `barmy old coot'.
Zoe King - Cadenza magazine
It does this with fantastic interviews from a vast selection of people who knew Thomas, and in the process destroys many of the myths and preconceptions that many people had about Thomas. The Media-driven idea of him being 'The Ogre Of Wales' is firmly put to rest thanks to the accounts of people who paint him to be a very intelligent, sensitive, nature-loving and sometimes very jocular individual.
There are interviews with family, friends and even people who knew him as a young man, all of which attempt to address every facet of his personality, every aspect of his being. Some of his rare and unpublished poetry is also shown here, a great privilege to anyone who has any interest in poetry - since Thomas set the standard for Welsh poetry his entire life.
Rogers builds up a picture of a man who was often intimidating to people who met him, yet in rapture to the beauty of nature and the wonders of the Universe, the theologies of life. Thomas was a man who would think nothing of slamming a door in a person's face, yet fought persistently for CND and would think nothing of dismantling traps designed for catching animals. I must truly commend Rogers for allowing me to gain such insight into the life of such a fascinating man.
Many of the interviews are amusing, some are emotive and, (on a more personal level) there is even one from a family member of mine who was good friends with Thomas.Read more ›
And it's great to realise the sense of humour lurking behind that familiar, craggy face!
I was lucky enough to meet R.S. Thomas in about 1970. I was a university student and a fellow student had decided to make a short documentary about the poet, with a grant from the Welsh Arts Council and the co-operation of the man himself. I was the cameraman and I still remember filming R.S. Thomas walking on the beach at Aberdaron, driving his Mini Clubman, or chatting in Welsh to a farmer at the door of his desolate cottage. This book helped to put my recollections into context - especially with regard to the poet's later years. One of the best books I've read this year.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful read that gives a glimpse into the complex mind and strange, fascinating life of R. S. Thomas. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A thorough and fascinating story of remarkable poet very well toldPublished 19 months ago by Olle Jones
An excellent book about a grand and rather eccentric
poet. I enjoyed it immensely! Would recommend to every poetry lover.
Excellent biography, thought provoking and a good incentive to read more of r.s.thomas's poems.Published 22 months ago by helen taylor
This starts to reveal the man and what drove and inspired him. You read his work with fresh eyes and are inspired to read morePublished on 8 April 2014 by huwb
A review is not possible because the book was a gift. But the receiver assures me she is loving this book.Published on 10 Dec. 2013 by John Frederick Lack
I have thurily enjoyed this book. The reason I picked it is that family and I had booked to stay in Aberdaron . Read morePublished on 30 Nov. 2013 by digitaldaz
This review is at once informative and amusing. The writer clearly admires the poet and his writings, but does not avoid criticism. Read morePublished on 15 Nov. 2013 by patricia townsend