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Dylan Thomas: Centenary

Updated on October 2, 2014

October 2014 Update

It is October 2, 2014, as I write this, and we are getting closer to, what would have been, Dylan's 100th birthday. Throughout the year his plays have been presented In Wales and in many parts of the world; there have been readings of his poetry; displays of his work; showings of films based on his writings and short animated films celebrating his endearing poetry and plays.

The Dylan Thomas Festival in Swansea, his birthplace, runs from October 27 to November 9 and there are many more planned events that can be found on the official website: It is well worth visiting the places like Swansea, Laugharne, the location of the Boathouse, New Quay, New York and many other places associated with Dylan Thomas, before the end of the year. I don't think you will be disappointed.

I was also informed today through the website: saysomethinginwelsh that the Welsh singer/songwriter, author, broadcaster and former lead singer of the group, 'Catatonia' is releasing a double CD on October 20 celebrating the writings of Dylan Thomas. Being a Swansea girl she has grown up knowing the impact on the city, her country of Wales and the world and felt compelled to do something to honour Swansea's own.

She has taken Dylan's words, which are melodic and rhythmic in their own right, and set them to original music accompanied by Catrin Finch on harp, Alice Neary on cello and David Adams on violin. This CD is the ultimate recognition to a great poet who died far too young.

Cery's website can be found at (Please see the link section below)


Dylan Thomas Centenary

On October 27, 2014, Dylan Thomas, the renowned Welsh poet and playwright, if he had lived, would be celebrating his 100th birthday. How wonderful it would be to see the grand old man of letters being honoured. Tragically, it is not to be. Dylan Thomas died in his prime, at the age of 39, far away from his beloved Wales However, the very fact that we have chosen to celebrate the centenary of his birth indicates his place among the most esteemed writers through time. He is still widely read and loved throughout the world but, obviously, he is a Welsh icon and will be celebrated as such during this centenary year, 2014.

all pictures taken by Christine Broster except where indicated (picture above courtesy of wikimedia)

Dylan Thomas's Study, Laugharne
Dylan Thomas's Study, Laugharne

The Life of Dylan Thomas

Dylan Marlais Thomas, as mentioned previously, was born on October 27, 1914, in a fairly prosperous area of Swansea in South Wales. He was raised, along with his sister, Nancy by Welsh-speaking parents but their children only spoke English and Dylan was sent to elocution lessons.

Dylan was a pampered child and not particularly academic - probably to the chagrin of his school master father. However, he did excel in English and wrote poetry at an early age and was published at age 11, He went on to become a free lance journalist writing poetry in his spare time. He became well known in the literary world for his expressive use of language and keen observational skills. He must have spent a great deal of time people watching and recording their speech and actions.

Dylan was also an actor who gave readings in a rich, Welsh voice (helped by those elocution lessons, no doubt). His voice lent itself to readings on phonograph records and on the radio. We are fortunate to be able to listen to him reading his own works.

Dylan was a gifted poet who constantly revised to produce his best work but, after reading various biographies, he is shown as an individual that craved attention and drank heavily. He also had many affairs during his marriage to Caitlin and seemed to live off the generosity of others.

Dylan married Caitlin McNamara in 1937 and they started a family. Their children are: Llewelyn, Aeronwy and Colm . They lived in many places during their marriage but kept coming back to Laugharne in Carmathenshire. Eventually, they settled in the, now famous, Boathouse on the estuary. He wrote in the Writing Shed, just above the Boathouse. He did a lot of daydreaming here because of its sublime location but he also got down to some serious writing. He wrote, 'Under Milk Wood' inspired by the characters he had encountered over the years. New Quay and Laugharne both claim to be the fictional village of Llareggub ( bugger all) but, I think, these villages and other locations inspired him He lived a rather tumultuous final four years here leaving to give readings in many parts of the world but especially the United States.

(picture above courtesy of wikimedia)

A simple cross marks Dylan Thomas's grave in Laugharne
A simple cross marks Dylan Thomas's grave in Laugharne

Dylan Thomas's simple grave in St. Martin's Churchyard, Laugharne

Dylan Thomas gave his last reading in New York on his fourth reading tour. He wasn't well during this visit but continued to push himself and drink heavily after the performances. He claimed to have drunk 18 whiskies but whether this is just bravado we will never know. He collapsed at his hotel in New York on November 5, 1953 and died on November 9. The cause of death was registered as pneumonia but it is believed there also may have been some neglect on the part of the medical staff.

Dylan was transported back to his beloved Laugharne and buried at St. Martin's Churchyard in Laugharne, South Wales.

He has been honoured with a plaque at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey and, 'The Dylan Thomas Centre' in Swansea, was opened in 1995 by former President Jimmy Carter, who is a big fan. Every year there is a two week 'Dylan Thomas Festival' which runs from the date of his birth, Oct. 27 to the date of his death on November 9.

The Boathouse in Laugharne

The Boathouse in Laugharne
The Boathouse in Laugharne

Laugharne in South Wales was a place that Dylan, with his family, returned to again and again. He was inspired by the view from his window in the writing shed which looked over the Taf Estuary. He called it the, 'heron priested', Taf Estuary. He wrote some of his greatest works here, one of them being the play for voices, 'Under Milk Wood'.

Between May 2 and May 5 the BBC will be recording and brodcasting from Laugharne Castle. There will be poets in residence at the Boathouse throughout the year, writing workshops, musical evenings, dance and Dr. Rowan Williams will be giving a presentation called, 'Poetry and Place' the evening of June 2

Take a look at the 'links' section for more information on the Centenary celebrations

A statue of Dylan Thomas in Swansea
A statue of Dylan Thomas in Swansea

Centenary Events In Swansea

Dylan Thomas was born and raised in Swansea so it is only fitting that the majority of the events surrounding the centenary will be held in Swansea.

The, 'Dylan Thomas Centenary Cycle Ride' from Laugharne to Swansea takes place on July 6.

The, 'Do Not Go Gentle Festival' will be held at various locations in Swansea October 24 to October 26.

The 'Dylan Thomas Centre' has a permanent exhibition but will be hosting many events throughout the year

Swansea is going to be a buzz throughout 2014 at the venues at its many venues. There is the National Waterfront Museum, the Grand Theatre; the Taliesin Arts Centre; the Swansea Museum; Cwmdonkin Park (Dylan was born at number 5 Cwmdonkin Dr. Uplands, Swansea); Attic Gallery; Brangwyn Hall and the Elysium Gallery.

Have a look at the 'Link' section for more information about the centenary events.

Laugharne Castle
Laugharne Castle

More Information On the Centenary

The director, Michael Bogdanov, will be presenting a new production of 'A Child's Christmas In Wales' starting October 30 at the Grand Theatre in Swansea. It will be taken on a national tour of Wales.

The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth will be having a major exhibition of his works.

October 2 is 'Dylan Thomas National Poetry Day' at the Dylan Thomas Centre

There will be programs on television about Dylan Thomas and the BBC has recorded various celebrities talking about Dylan's influence on them. (See the 'Links' section)

Links To The Dylan Thomas: Centenary

This is a link to all the places associated with Dylan Thomas and his writings. These are very interesting places to visit at any time but 2014 is an excellent time to visit to become a part of the centenary celebrations.

Dylan Thomas reads Dylan Thomas

It is a privilege to have these films of Dylan Thomas reading his own work in his own deep, rich Welsh voice.

South Wales - Dylan Thomas Country

South Wales, U.K.

get directions

My particular favourite piece of writing by Dylan Thomas is, 'A Child's Christmas In Wales'. I love the way he uses the language and it is so insightful and humourous.

When did you first discover the works of Dylan Thomas and what is your favourite poem or play?

Looking forward to your comments..

Dylan Thomas 100

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