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Left Book Author Profile
Thomas, Dylan
Left Book
Website: http://www.dylanthomas.com

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Thomas, Dylan

Child's Christmas in Wales, A [Stories]



Biography

Dylan Marlais Thomas, (October 27, 1914, Swansea - November 9, 1953, New York City) was a Welsh poet and writer.


Thomas was born in Swansea, in South Wales: his father David, who was a writer and possessed a degree in English, brought his son up to speak English rather than Dylan's mother's native Welsh. Dylan Thomas' middle name, "Marlais", came from the bardic name of his uncle, the Unitarian minister, Gwilym Marles (whose real name was William Thomas).


Thomas' childhood was spent largely in Swansea, with regular summer trips to visit his mother's family on their Carmarthen farm. These rural sojourns, and their contrast with the town life of Swansea, would inform much of his work, notably many short stories and radio essays and the poem "Fern Hill".


Dylan Thomas is widely considered one of the greatest 20th century poets writing in English, frequently mentioned alongside Frost, Yeats, and T. S. Eliot in lists of the century's most important poets. He remains the leading figure in Anglo-Welsh literature.


His vivid and often fantastic imagery was a rejection of the trends in 20th Century verse: while his contemporaries gradually altered their writing to serious topical verse (political and social concerns were often expressed), Thomas gave himself over to his passionately felt emotions, and his writing is often both intensely personal and fiercely lyrical. Thomas, in many ways, was more in alignment with the Romantics than he was with the poets of his era (Auden and Eliot, to name but two).


He is particularly remembered for the remarkable radio-play Under Milk Wood, for his poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, which is generally interpreted as a plea to his dying father to hold onto life, and for the short story A Child's Christmas in Wales.


He collapsed at the Hotel Chelsea after drinking heavily while in New York City on a promotional tour and later died at St Vincent's hospital. He was a diabetic and, it is said, not very careful about managing it; in particular, heavy drinking is dangerous for diabetics. Following his death, his body was brought back to Wales for burial in the village churchyard at Laugharne, Pembrokeshire, where he had enjoyed his happiest days. In 1994, his widow, Caitlin, was buried alongside him. Their former home, the Boat House, Laugharne, is now a memorial to Dylan.


There are many memorials to Dylan Thomas in his home town of Swansea, including a statue in the maritime quarter, the Dylan Thomas Theatre, and the Dylan Thomas Centre. The latter building, formerly the Guildhall, was opened by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, one of Thomas's most famous fans, following its conversion. It is now a literature centre, where exhibitions and lectures are held, and is the setting for the city's annual Dylan Thomas Festival.


Another monument to Thomas stands in Cwmdonkin Park, close to his birthplace (at no 5 Cwmdonkin Drive); this was one of his favourite childhood haunts. The memorial is inscribed with lines from one of his best-loved poems, Fern Hill. Several of the pubs in Swansea also have associations with the poet. Swansea’s oldest pub, the No Sign Bar, was a regular haunt, renamed the Wine Vaults in his story The Followers.


The young Dylan "mucked about as chirpy as a sparrow after the sips and titbits and small change of the town" as a reporter on the local paper, turning many a working day into a pub crawl. Much of the central Swansea he knew was flattened in the war, but many Dylan locations from stories such as `Old Garbo' survive. The BBC studios, with their ornate and distinguished fascia, where he broadcast in a voice like warm treacle, is still there. The bombed Kardomah Cafe, where he plotted artistic revolution with his friends, is reincarnated in Portland Street.


Dylan wrote half his poems - "And death shall have no dominion" is the best know - and many short stories when he lived at no 5 Cwmdonkin Drive. By the time he left the family home in 1934 he was one of the most exciting young poets writing in the English language.


He appears along with Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Albert Einstein all on probably the best known of all record sleeves, the Beatles’ Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. John Lennon asked that he be included, recognising a great influence on his work.




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