Davies, Thomas 1941-(Tom Davies)
DAVIES, Thomas 1941-(Tom Davies)
PERSONAL: Born April 10, 1941, in Pontypridd, Wales; son of Jack (a steelworker) and Phyllis (a homemaker; maiden name, Ford) Davies; married Liz Evans (a journalist), March 4, 1967; children: Julian, Steffan, Nathan. Education: University College, Cardiff, B.A. (with honors), 1963.
ADDRESSES: Home—Penarth, Wales. Agent—Elaine Greene, 16 Newington Green, London N16 9PU, England.
CAREER: Worked at odd jobs, including sailing as a merchant seaman on ships to Australia and Africa; drove a bus through Europe and India; served as a social worker on the lower East Side of New York; associated with the British Voluntary Services Overseas as a teacher in Indonesia; owner of a coal yard in Penarth, Wales; host of talk show on Harlech Television, Wales; journalist with Western Mail in Cardiff, Wales; reporter for British newspapers, including Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times, and served for two years as diarist/Pendennis for The Observer; full-time writer.
UNDER NAME TOM DAVIES
Merlyn the Magician and the Pacific Coast Highway, New English Library (Sevenoaks, Kent, England), 1982.
Electric Harvest, New English Library (Sevenoaks, Kent, England), 1984.
Stained Glass Hours: A Modern Pilgrimage, New English Library (Sevenoaks, Kent, England), 1985.
One Winter of the Holy Spirit, (novel) Macdonalds (London, England), 1985.
Wild Skies and Celtic Paths, Triangle (London, England), 1988.
Man of Lawlessness, Hodden & Stoughton (London, England), 1989.
Road to the Stars: A European Pilgrimage, Triangle/SPCK (London, England), 1998.
Visions of Caradoc (novel), Azure (London, England), 1999.
Through Fields of Gold: A Pilgrimage from Berlin to Rome, Triangle/SPCK (London, England), 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Known for his offbeat humor, startling observations, and passion for pilgrimage, Tom Davies has written a series of books relating to personal spiritual journeys he has taken throughout the world. Independent, mystical, and Welsh, Davies lives up to his national heritage. Davies once told CA: "All my work is of a religious nature—I want to explore the mind of God and his relevance to the modern world. My work is committed to attacking the modern writer who, I believe, with his persistent search for violence, viciousness, perversion, and cruelty has abandoned the God of his forefathers and is actively attacking and destroying our world."
In Merlyn the Magician and the Pacific Coast Highway, Davies recounts his bicycle adventures in Europe, the Far East, and North America, sharing his spiritual insights as well as his travel observations. Reviewer Alastair Sutherland noted in the Listener that "the bicycle gives a distinctive approach to Davies's experience of cities" and that neither illustrations nor photographs could add to "what the writer has seen. He is inside his travel, and not only writing from outside." The critic also observed that while Davies's frequent condemnations of the corrupt, motorized modern world are not "endearing," his descriptions and comments on bicycling "are so good that the book cannot be ignored by anyone interested in the literature of bikes . . . Every time he returns to bikes, Tom Davies is enjoyable, and imparts the joie de vivre of his travels."
Stained Glass Hours: A Modern Pilgrimage includes photographs by John Hodder as Davies visits the sites of Christian shrines in Great Britain and Ireland. Wild Skies and Celtic Paths, as off beat as Merlyn the Magician and the Pacific Coast Highway, recounts Davies's spiritual pilgrimage throughout isolated landscapes and holy places of England and Ireland in the tradition of the medieval pilgrims. The book is filled with descriptions of characters he met along the way and of places, both highbrow and low, he wandered, all told in his signature, comic style.
Two novels also address Davies's quest to understand the Divine as well as his own Welsh history. One Winter of the Holy Spirit, set in Wales in 1904, depicts the conflict between chapel folk and those attracted by the New Socialism. Visions of Caradoc portrays a rascally old character, Caradoc, a cantankerous Welsh mystic and visionary who holds forth on every topic from the poet Dylan Thomas to single mothers.
Road to the Stars chronicles a campervan pilgrimage from Paris and Lourdes in France across the Pyrenees into Spain and to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. Near the village of Navarre, in northern Spain, Davies finds a place to spend the night. He describes the landscape around him—the villages with their little, red-tiled churches, the houses with iron railings and flower pots blooming with color, and the dogs that seem ever-present in Spain. He chooses a spot high enough to afford a fine vista of the area, and as he surveys the landscape below, he sees a cyclist. Unable to cycle himself because of a recent operation, he muses upon what he calls the "theology of bicycling," which he believes is "as clear as it is balanced and exact. The pleasure you get out of it is almost directly in ratio to the pain you put in.... There is no possibility of feeling doomed by alienation on a bicycle since it takes down all imprisoning walls and insists we are all only ordinary people in an ordinary world and in the shadow of one cross." Later his thoughts turn to his own journey through fear, which he attributes to modern cultural dependency on such things as television, newspapers, and films. He writes of his prayer life that it "wasn't as deep and consistent as it should be....Yetthe experience of Lourdes had been a real breakthrough—telling me that illness was as much a matter of the mind as the body—and now I had to start carrying my own candle directly into my own darkness."
In the same vein, Davies recounts a 1999 campervan pilgrimage from Berlin to Rome, which he describes in Through Fields of Gold: A Pilgrimage from Berlin to Rome. Filled with quirky observations, humorous insights, and arguments with God, the book chronicles Davies's pilgrimage and his on-again, off-again relationship with the Divine. Reviewer Peter Hall of Christian Aid wrote in the Web site, fish.co.uk, "I liked his unpredictability. One minute walking the streets with Martin Luther or Francis of Assisi, the next, translucent fungus balls. Don't ask. You have to read it." He goes on to comment, "Beneath the humour is a serious intent and he has important things to say....The point for Davies, and I suppose for all of us, is the journey itself." Commenting on Davies's humor, Austen Ivereigh of the Times Literary Supplement wrote, "There are amusing passages here, which Davies achieves by offsetting his self-conscious blokeishness against the high culture he is clearly overwhelmed by. The spiritual journey will be enjoyed by those who like their God clearly and simply packaged."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books & Bookmen, June 1985, review of Stained Glass Hours: A Modern Pilgrimage, p. 19.
Listener, February 3, 1983, Alastair Sutherland, review of Merlyn the Magician and the Pacific Coast Highway; January 4, 1990, review of The Man of Lawlessness, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 11, 1985, review of The Electric Harvest, p. 4.
Spectator, November 25, 1989, review of The Man of Lawlessness, p. 42.
Times (London, England), January 13, 1982; September 13, 1984.
Times Literary Supplement, June 8, 2001, Austen Ivereigh, review of Through Fields of Gold: A Pilgrimage from Berlin to Rome, p. 33.