Ned Thomas

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Ned (Edward Morley) Thomas is an editor, literary critic and cultural commentator. Born in England of Welsh parents in 1936 and educated for a time in a Welsh school he also spent much of his childhood on the continent of Europe, mainly in Germany immediately after the Second World War [1] After graduating from New College, Oxford he worked as a journalist in London and also in Moscow as editor of the British Government’s Russian-language publication Angliya. He lectured in the universities of Moscow, Salamanca, Spain and in Aberystwyth on his return to Wales in 1969. In 1970 he founded the cultural magazine Planet, subtitled ‘The Welsh Internationalist’ to indicate the internationalist perspective it brought to the discussion of Welsh culture. He subsequently took office as director of the University of Wales Press and latterly Mercator Research Unit for the study of minority languages in Aberystwyth.[2]


  • Orwell (Edinburgh, 1965)
  • The Welsh Extremist (London, 1971 & Talybont 1973)
  • Derek Walcott: Poet of the Islands ( Cardiff, 1980)
  • Waldo (Caernarfon, 1985)
  • Bydoedd (Talybont, 2010)

Although beginning his academic output with a study of the English writer George Orwell,[3] it was with The Welsh Extremist [4] that the main focus of his publishing career began. He had originally returned to Wales with the intention of writing a novel but instead produced this study of Welsh-language writers and the culture they inhabited. Although the work was written in English and conceived of as introducing Welsh writing and culture to a radical English audience, it had most success in Wales and has been reprinted several times since being picked up for a paperback edition by the mainly Welsh-language press Y Lolfa.[5] His bilingual essay on the poet Derek Walcott [6] was commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales when Walcott was awarded their International Writer’s Prize in 1980. The move from English to Welsh as the main language of his critical output came with the publication of his study of Waldo Williams [7] a figure of some importance in Twentieth Century Welsh culture both because of the emphasis on community in his poetry and the intensity of his view of its importance for the identity of the Welsh people. In Bydoedd (Worlds),[8] subtitled as a “cofiant cyfnod” (biography of a period) rather than a conventional autobiography, Ned Thomas reviews the events of his own life against the historical background of the post-war years in Germany, the Cold War years in Russia and the re- emergence of the national identities of minority peoples following the period of expansive nationalisms earlier in the Twentieth Century.


  1. ^ His own account of his childhood is contained in his Welsh-language memoir Bydoedd (2010)
  2. ^ Hywel Trewyn (30 October 2013). "Ned Thomas: Take politics out of Welsh language". northwales.
  3. ^ Thomas, Ned : Orwell (Edinburgh, 1965)
  4. ^ Thomas, Ned : The Welsh Extremist (London, 1971 & Talybont 1973)
  5. ^ The significance of this work in the output of Ned Thomas is explored in an article by Greg Hill ‘Ned Thomas and the Condition of Wales’, in Ariel 23:3 July 1992 pp. 73-84.
  6. ^ Thomas, Ned : Derek Walcott: Poet of the Islands ( Cardiff, 1980)
  7. ^ Thomas, Ned : Waldo (Caernarfon, 1985)
  8. ^ Thomas, Ned : Bydoedd (Talybont, 2010)