Born in Newport, Monmouthshire, 1931, Leslie Thomas is the son of a sailor who was lost of sea
in 1943. His boyhood in an orphanage is evoked in This Time Next Week published in 1964. At
sixteen, he became a reporter, before going on to do his national service. He won worldwide
acclaim with his best selling novel The Virgin Soldiers, which has achieved international sales of
over two million copies.
Featured Books, with extracts, by Leslie Thomas
For almost 40 years Leslie Thomas has been one of Britain’s most popular novelists, a best-seller
with thirty titles to his name and international sales figures exceeding fourteen million.
He was born of a seafaring family in Newport, Gwent, South Wales, on March 22nd, 1931.
His grandfather was one of the old Cape - Horners, who voyaged on sailing ships around the
dreaded Horn. He is said to have left the sea because he objected to his shipmates' bad language.
Thomas's father was drowned when his ship was torpedoed in 1943, and his mother died six months later.
He and his younger brother, Roy found themselves in a Dr. Barnardo's Home, an experience evoked years later in his first
book ‘This Time Next Week’ (Constable 1964). This book remains in print and is used as a set book for schools. He is now a
Vice-President of Barnardo’s.
Experience as a National Serviceman resulted in his first novel, the best-selling ‘The Virgin Soldiers’ which has been
published all over the world and was made into a successful film produced by Carl Foreman. (Thomas' entry in ‘Who's Who’
encapsulates his army career: “1949-51. Rose to Lance-Corporal.”)
Thomas was a widely - travelled newspaperman, covering Royal tours, the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the funeral of Sir Winston
Churchill and many other notable events. After the publication of ‘The Virgin Soldiers’ he became a full-time writer and has
now produced twenty-five novels and three travel books – ‘Some Lovely Islands’, My World of Islands’ and ‘The Hidden
Places of Britain’. He has also written a second volume of autobiography, ‘In My Wildest Dreams’.
Thomas made his first broadcast thirty-seven years ago, and since then has made many more. On television he appeared in
documentaries and talk-shows. Among these has been ‘Parkinson’, ‘This is Your Life’, ‘Wogan’ and ‘Through The Keyhole’.
He continues to travel widely. His interests are classical music, non-fiction reading, antiques, cricket, stamp collecting,
photography and islands. Leslie Thomas has received an Honorary MA Degree from the University of Wales and an Honorary
Doctorate of Literature from the University of Nottingham. He was awarded the OBE in the New Year Honours list of 2005.
Thomas has three grown-up children from his first marriage and one – a son Matthew – from his second. His wife Diane
Thomas is his business manager. They live on the Hampshire coast.