BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture

Led by James Naughtie, a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best-known novels


Matthew Hollis - Now All Roads Lead to France

November 3rd, 2013

Episode 374 of 428 episodes

With James Naughtie. Matthew Hollis discusses his Costa winning biography of the poet Edward Thomas, Now All Roads Lead to France. The book is an account of the final years of Thomas who died in action in the First World War in 1917. Although an accomplished prose-writer and literary critic, Edward Thomas only began writing poetry in 1914, at the age of 36. Before then, Thomas had been tormented by what he regarded as the banality of his work, by his struggle with depression and by his marriage. Inspired by his life-changing friendship with American poet Robert Frost, Thomas wrote poem after poem, and his emotional affliction began to lift. The two friends began to formulate poetic ideas that would produce some of the most remarkable verse of the twentieth century. But the First World War put an ocean between them: Frost returned to the safety of New England, while Thomas stayed to fight. Hollis is a poet himself and talks about the poetic life as well as the roads taken - and those not taken - that are at the heart of the book. Producer Dymphna Flynn December's Bookclub choice : Killing Floor by Lee Child.