Dylan Thomas

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Updated On January 18, 2022
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Dylan Thomas was a prominent poet and writer who was born in Swansea to Welsh parents. His works were largely based in the physical area of his homeland, Wales, despite the fact that he wrote solely in English. Even though he was highly clever, he was never a good student. His intellectual and literary flare came from his father, a schoolteacher, while his temperament came from his mother, who instilled in him a deep reverence for his Celtic background. His first collection of poems was published while he was still in his teens, and by the age of twenty, he had established himself as a well-known poet. Later on, he began composing prose, which garnered him much more acclaim. Unfortunately, he developed a drinking problem in his early twenties, and as a result, he had to deal with financial difficulties throughout his life. It also damaged his health, and he died of pneumonia caused by excessive drinking at the age of 39.

Childhood and Adolescence

Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, South Wales, on October 27, 1914. His father, David John Thomas, was a seamstress and his mother, Florence Hannah (née Williams), was an English teacher at Swansea Grammar School for Boys. Nancy Marles, his eight-year-old sister, was his only sibling.

Despite the fact that both of his parents spoke Welsh, the children were solely taught English. Dylan’s father would recite Shakespeare to him even before he could read. However, bronchitis and asthma plagued him throughout his boyhood, and these problems afflicted him throughout his life.

Mrs. Hole’s dame school, which was close to his home, was where the kid began his official education. He later described the school’s atmosphere as “strict and caring.” It’s probable that he was frequently penalized for minor offenses such as not finishing his math homework or yanking the hair of fellow classmates.

He began attending Swansea Grammar School in October 1925, where his father was a teacher. He was a typical student who preferred to remain alone. He did, however, enjoy reading and was fascinated by local legends.
He was attracted by poems since he was a child, and he quickly accumulated a wealth of information about English poetry. He became friends with Daniel Jones during this time. They collaborated on hundreds of poems. Jones would later edit a book of Thomas’ poems.

Thomas won the mile race at school in 1928, and his portrait was published in a local newspaper. For some reason, he thought it was a significant accomplishment, and he kept the photograph with him until his death.
He began writing poems in a penny notebook at some point, and several of them were published in the school magazine. ‘Osiris, come to Isis,’ was the title of the first poem, which was written on April 27, 1930.
Later on, he became the magazine’s editor. He did not complete his education, however, and dropped out in 1931. He was sixteen years old at the time.

A Poet’s Beginnings

After graduating from high school in 1931, Dylan Thomas went to work for the South Wales Daily Post as a reporter. He did not, however, stay there for long. He had to resign his employment under duress in December 1932, eighteen months after starting his assignment.

Following that, he focused on producing poems while working as a freelance journalist to supplement his income. He also tried his hand at acting at some point and became a member of Swansea Little Theatre, an amateur dramatic organization.

During this time, he met Bert Trick, an amateur poet and grocer, who encouraged him to write a poem about immortality, which became known as ‘And death shall have no dominion.’ It was composed in April 1933 and first published on May 8 in ‘New English Weekly.’

Other notable poems from this time period include ‘Before I Knocked,’ ‘The Force That Drives the Flower Through the Green Fuse,’ and ‘Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines.’ T. S. Eliot, Geoffrey Grigson, and Stephen Spender all remarked on the last poem, which was published in ‘The Listener’ in 1934.
They contacted Thomas, and he won the Sunday Referee’s Poet’s Corner Prize in April 1934, at the age of nineteen. They also agreed to sponsor the winner’s first book.

Dylan Thomas has recently relocated to London to manage the book’s publishing. It was released in December 1934 under the title ’18 Poems.’ 500 copies were printed at first, but it was republished in 1936.
The work was greatly influenced by a series of poems he had previously scribbled in his notebooks. He was accepted into the London poetry world as it began to receive critical prominence. During this time, he began binge drinking heavily.

‘Twenty-Five Poems,’ his second collection of poems, was published in 1936. Half of the poems in this collection were written while he was still in his teens, at his father’s home on Cwmdonkin Drive.

Go Back to South Wales

Thomas Dylan married Caitlin Macnamara in 1937 and relocated to the Carmarthenshire fishing village of Laugharne the following year. During his time in the city, he published a number of short tales in various journals.
His third novel was published in 1939. It was called ‘The Map of Love,’ and it included sixteen poems and twenty short tales that had previously appeared in various journals.

Following that, on April 4, 1940, he released his fourth book, ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog,’ which contained primarily autobiographical stories set in Swansea. Unfortunately, both of these novels were commercial flops at first. As a result, Thomas was forced to rely on his little writing and reviewing revenue.

He began borrowing money from acquaintances to maintain his growing family. He left Laugharne in July 1940, unable to return them, and stayed with John Davenport in Marshfield, Gloucestershire.

Years of World War II

In 1941, Dylan Thomas and Caitlin relocated to London. By this time, the Second World War had begun, and Thomas had been called for conscription but had been exempted from active duty due to his deteriorating lungs. He did, however, serve as an antiaircraft gunner for a period.

The anxious writer supplemented his income by creating BBC screenplays during this time. Despite the fact that it brought some relief, the money was irregular, and he continued to struggle financially.
Finally, he found work with Strand Films, which provided him with a steady income for the first time in his life. He created scripts for at least five films for the studio starting in 1942.

As the threat of German bombing increased in 1944, he relocated his family first to Blaen Cwm near Llangain, then to New Quay. He completed his well-known poem, ‘Vision and Prayer,’ there in November. He penned ‘Holy Spring’ the next year.

Following the War

In Dylan Thomas’s life, 1945 was a watershed moment. He had previously written for the BBC, although it was not on a regular basis. However, beginning in October 1945, he began to appear on it on a regular basis, a relationship that lasted until his death, and he gave hundreds of talk shows on poetry readings and conversations.

Later, beginning in late 1946, he began to appear on the BBC’s ‘Third Programme,’ in plays such as ‘Comus,’ ‘Paradise Lost,’ and ‘Agamemnon.’ He quickly rose to prominence as a prominent radio personality and a celebrity.
In 1946, he also published his fifth volume of poems. The play, titled ‘Deaths and Entrances,’ dealt mostly with the aftermath of World War II and quickly became a hit.

Despite his achievements, poverty remained a constant companion. He resided in the garden summer house of eminent historian, A.J.P. Taylor, in Disney till 1949, unable to pay his rents and only visiting London in conjunction with his work with the BBC.

Meanwhile, the Society of Authors awarded him a Traveling Scholarship in 1947. He wrote a number of poetry while in Florence, including ‘Do not go gently into that good night.’ They were later included in the book ‘In Country Sleep, And Other Poems.’

Mrs. Margaret Taylor later bought Thomas a house (called Boathouse) at Laugharne in 1949, and he lived there until his death. He bought a garage for five pounds near the house and used it as his writing nook, where he wrote many of his best poems, including ‘Over St. John’s Hill.’

He was invited to New York in 1950, when he went on a three-month tour of art centers and universities. Despite the fact that the tour was critically and commercially successful, he continued to drink heavily and became a difficult guest.

When he returned to England, he maintained his writing career, publishing two further collections in 1952: ‘In Country Sleep and Other Poems’ and ‘Collected Poems, 1934–1952.’ In the same year, he returned to the United States for the second time.

During this tour, he recorded his debut poetry album on vinyl, which was published later that year by Caedmon Records. Though mostly a collection of poems, it also includes ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales,’ which became his most popular prose piece in the United States.

He made his third journey to America in 1953. On his return, he composed ‘Under Milk Wood’ for the BBC, and on October 15, 1953, he sent the manuscript to the producer. He left for the United States again on October 19, the same year, never to return.

Major Projects of Dylan Thomas

‘Do not go gently into that good night,’ according to legend, is his most popular poem. It was written in 1947 and is known for evoking intense emotions. It is often regarded as the best example of villanelle.
Another of his well-known pieces is ‘Under Milk Wood.’ It encourages the spectator to visit a fictional little Welsh fishing village named Llareggub and listen to the locals’ ideas and dreams in prose form for the BBC. After his death, the piece was broadcast and adapted into a film in 1972.

Achievements & Awards

‘Collected Poems, 1934–1952,’ Dylan Thomas’s most recent collection, earned the Foyle Poetry Prize.

Personal History and Legacy

Dylan Thomas married Caitlin Macnamara, a 22-year-old Irish dancer who had run away from home to seek a career in dancing, on July 11, 1937. Despite the fact that they were married until his death, their relationship was tumultuous, with each of them having many relationships outside of marriage.
Despite this, Llewelyn, Aeronwy, and Colm were born to the couple. Aeronwy Bryn Thomas-Ellis, their second child, went up to be an Italian poet translator.

Thomas was planned to deliver poetry in forty university cities across the country during his last tour to the United States in 1953. He was, however, sick from the start and relied extensively on inhalers. He passed away on October 27, 1953, while celebrating his 39th birthday in a New York restaurant.

His physician, blaming his sickness on alcoholism, gave him morphine, which sent him into a coma. On November 9, 1953, he was admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he died. His death was linked to pneumonia caused by drunkenness, according to the medical report. His body was returned to Laugharne to be buried.

The Boathouse, where he spent the latter years of his life, has been converted into a museum. It attracts roughly 15,000 visitors each year and houses many of his mementos as well as some of his own furniture.

Swansea, his birthplace, is home to the Dylan Thomas Theatre and Dylan Thomas Center, in addition to a number of monuments. In addition, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Dylan Thomas Screenplay Award were named after him.

Estimated Net Worth

Dylan is one of the wealthiest poets and one of the most well-known. Dylan Thomas’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.