Dylan Thomas, "The Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive"
Dylan Thomas, drinking his muse
Dylan Marlais Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales on October 27, 1914.
The name Dylan comes from the
Mabinogion,a collection of 11 mediaeval Welsh tales. The word means "sea". In the tale Math, the son of Mathonwy, challenges Aranrhod, his niece who claims to be a virgin, to step over his magic wand.
"Aranrhod stepped over the wand, and with that step she dropped a sturdy boy with thick yellow hair; the boy gave a loud cry, and with that cry she made her way for the door.....
"Well," said Math, "I will arrange for the baptism of this one......and I will call him Dylan."
The boy was baptized, whereupon he immediately made for the sea, and when he came to the sea he took on its nature and swam as well as the best fish. He was called Dylan (sea) son of Ton (wave), for no wave ever broke beneath him."
Marlais is the name of a stream which runs from the hills near the birthplace of Dylan Thomas' great uncle Gwilym Marles Thomas. Marles is a variation of the name Marlais. Dylan Thomas' sister Nancy also bore a variation of the name Marles.
In November 1934 he moved to London and on the 18th December of that year his first book of poetry,
Eighteen Poemsappeared to critical acclaim. Dylan Thomas had just turned 20 when this volume of poetry was released. He had written nearly 30 poems in late 1933 and early 1934, of which 13 were published in this volume. Between May and October 1934, he completed another five for inclusion in the book. Dylan Thomas was an incredibly conscientious wordsmith, as shown by this description by his long-time friend Vernon Watkins:
"....the composition of his poetry, for which he used separate work sheets and would spend sometimes several days on a single line, while the poem was built up phrase by phrase, at glacier like speed."
Adventures in the Skin Trade, introduction)
In April of 1936 he met
Caitlin MacNamara, and in September his second volume of poetry
Twenty-five Poemswas released. In July 1937 Dylan and Caitlin were married and in 1938, they moved to Laugharne, Wales.
Their first child, Llewelyn Edouard Thomas was born in January 1939.
The Map of Lovewas published in August 1939 and
The World I Breathewas published in December 1939, in the United States.
In April 1940
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dogwas published and in September, Dylan began working for
Strand Filmswhich he continued for the duration of
World War II.
His second child Aeronwyn Bryn Thomas was born in March 1943.
Deaths and Entranceswas published in 1946. In 1949 his third child, Colm Garan Hart Thomas was born. In 1952,
Collected Poems, 1934-1952became the last book published in his life time. He also published many short stories, wrote filmscripts, broadcast stories and talks, did a series of lecture tours in the United States and wrote
Under Milkwood, the radio play.
During his fourth lecture tour of the United States in 1953, (which he made under a doctor's care) and a few days after his 39th birthday, he collapsed in hisNew York City hotel. He died on November 9th, 1953 at St Vincents Hospital, in New York City. His body was sent back to Laugharne, Wales, where his grave is
marked by a simple wooden cross.
His unfinished novel,
Adventures in the Skin Trade,was originally rejected by his London publisher for not being "the great, serious autobiographical work to which they had looked forward so long." The novel itself is the incredibly funny story of a young man, Samuel Bennet, who moves to London, after metaphorically (and nearly literally) burning his bridges behind him. In the few extant chapters, Samuel gets involved in a series of inextricable situations, beginning with getting a finger permanently stuck inside of a Bass Ale bottle. The title, in typically Dylan Thomas fashion refers, of course, to the young man's trading one life for another, a metaphoric trading of skins. In correspondence with Vernon Watkins, he describes the work-in-progress as:
"It's a mixture of
Kafka, Beachcomber, and good old 3-adjectives-a-penny belly-churning Thomas, the
Rimbaudof Cwmdonkin Drive."
In July 1994, his wife, Caitlin Thomas died in Italy, where she had spent most of the years of her life after the death of her husband.
Dylan Thomas, often described as a "classic Welsh writer", never actually learned the Welsh language himself. Though he achieved much notoriety during his short life, he received little financial gain. It was only after his death that his work truly began to be appreciated. There is no doubt, however, that he is one of the great English (language) poets of the twentieth century, arguably the greatest poet of our time. Dylan Thomas' incredible use of metaphor, meter, and a comic wit, allows his work to stand alone, balancing a reckless neo-Romantic sensuality against the more staid Puritanism of his time and culture. Thomas' lust for life and love of drink may well have contributed to his premature demise, yet his work remains, a testament to both his skill and mastery of
The Word. The work of Dylan Thomas has been ingrained into our modern psyche in countless ways, ranging from a surprisingly stirring recital of "Do not go gentle into that good night" by none other than
Rodney Dangerfieldin the 1986 movie
Back To School(in itself proof of the poet's powerfully enduring skill) to a more highbrow
choral symphonybased on three of his poems.
don't forget to check our amazon.co.uk section for more
Dylan Thomas books!
you may also view the
table of contentsfor many of these books
- 18 Poems (1934)[OOP]
- 25 Poems (1936) [OOP]
- The Map of Love (1939) [OOP]
- The World I Breathe (1939) [OOP]
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog (1940)
- New Poems (1943) [OOP]
- Deaths and Entrances (1946) [OOP]
- Selected Writings of Dylan Thomas (1946) [OOP]
- Twenty-Six Poems (1950) [OOP]
- In Country Sleep (1952) [OOP]
Collected Poems, 1934-1952 (1952)
The Doctor and the Devils and Other Scripts (1953)
Under Milkwood: A Play For Voices (1954)
Quite Early One Morning (1954)
Adventures in the Skin Trade and Other Stories (1955)
- A Prospect of the Sea (1955) [OOP]
A Child's Christmas in Wales (1955)
Letters to Vernon Watkins(1957)
The Doctor and the Devils and Other Scripts
The Beach of Falesa(1964) [OOP]
Dylan Thomas - a Collection of Critical Essays: Charles B. Cox (ed.) (1966) [OOP]
The Poems of Dylan Thomas(1979)
The Collected Stories of Dylan Thomas (1984)
On the Air With Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts
Eight Stories (1993)
Dylan Thomas: The Complete Screenplays (1995)
Rebecca's Daughters: A Film Scenario
Fern Hill: An Illustrated edition of the Dylan Thomas poem. 
Audio Editions of the Works of Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas: Reading His Poetry(audio cassette)
Under Milkwood [UNABRIDGED]Audio Cassettes, Dylan Thomas and a variety of other performers...
Adventures in the Skin TradeAudio Cassettes
Dylan Thomas Reads: And Death Shall Have No Dominion, a Winter's Tale, on Reading Poetry Aloud and Other Selections/Audio Cassettes
More Dylan Thomas Reads: Adventures in the Skin Trade/Quite Early One Morning and Other Poems/Audio Cassettes
Dylan Thomas Reads A Child's Christmas in Wales and Five Poems: CompactDisc edition
Dylan Thomas Reads A Child's Christmas in Wales and Five Poems: Cassette edition
Dylan Thomas in Country Heaven, the Evolution of a Poem
Reading from His Work (1 Cassette)
The Complete Recorded Stories and Humourous Essays of Dylan Thomas(Cassette)
Biographical, Critical and otherwise
analytical works about Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas: An Original Language (Georgia Southern University Jack N. & Addie Averitt Lecture, 6): Barbara Nathan Hardy, (8/2000)
Dylan Thomas: The Biography: Paul Ferris (April 2000)
The Reference Companion To Dylan Thomas (1998)
Dylan Thomas In America: An Intimate Journal- John Malcolm Brinnin (1955) [reprint edition 7/2000]
Artists in Dylan Thomas's Prose Works : Adam Naming and Aesop Fabling- Ann Elizabeth Mayer
Dylan Thomas (Twayne's English Authors Series No. 20): Jack Korg
Critical Essays On Dylan Thomas (Critical Essays On British Literature Series): George Gaston (ed.)
Dylan Thomas: Walford Davies
Dylan Thomas: New Critical Essays: Walford Davies [OOP] (this may be the same as the above)
A Reader's Guide to Dylan Thomas (Reader's Guides Series): William York Tindall
- Caitlin : Life With Dylan Thomas [out of print]: Caitlin Thomas
Caitlin: The Life of Caitlin Thomas: Paul Ferris
Caitlin: A Warring Absence: [OOP]
OtherDylan Thomas Miscellany
The Dylan Thomas Photo Album: I believe this is a photo album with a variety of Dylan Thomas quotes scattered throughout...
External Links For Dylan Thomas
Inspired By Dylan Thomas...
And death shall have no dominion.
Author: Patrick Deese