Since his death in 1953, Dylan Thomas’ life has become almost as famous as his work. Films have been made, biographies written and his work has been celebrated. May 14th sees the third International Dylan Thomas Day with exhibitions, drop-in sessions for children in Laugharne and Swansea as well as online activities, all thanks to Literature Wales. Here are some books about Dylan Thomas and his life…
5. DYLAN THOMAS: THE BIOGRAPHY
by Paul Ferris
Paul Ferris’ sympathetic biography has established itself as the one essential work on Dylan Thomas’ life. Paul Ferris gathered information from over 200 interviews, and the book includes illustrations/photographs.
The biography sifts through what’s known and discerns fact from fiction and charts his life from his parents’ background and their meeting, through school, Caitlin and marriage, the War and Fern Hill, his radio work, Laugharne and his death in New York at the age of 39.
Paul Ferris was born in Swansea and his book on Dylan Thomas was first published in 1977, and revised in 1999 which includes a new introduction.
4. DYLAN THOMAS: PORTRAIT OF A FRIEND
by Gwen Watkins
Gwen and Vernon Watkins were among the few who could claim a close and long friendship with Dylan and Caitlin Thomas. Vernon Watkins was also a poet from Swansea and had been friends with Dylan since their 20s, meeting through their poetry and establishing their friendship at the Kardomah café.
Written after Vernon Watkins’ death from some of his writings and Gwen’s memories, it charts the turbulence of Dylan’s life as seen by those who knew him. It features the poetry of both Watkins and Thomas and photos of the group who became known as The Kardomah Gang.
Described by Paul Ferris, biographer of Dylan Thomas, as “by far the best personal memoir of Dylan Thomas” this is must-read for all admirers of Dylan Thomas.
3. THE DYLAN THOMAS TRAIL
by David N. Thomas
Written as a guide to some of the places in Ceredigion that Dylan Thomas used to visit, the guide starts in Llanon and goes through to Tal-sarn, Aberaeron, Llanina and on to New Quay. It also has details of a further three walks in the area.
This book accompanies the trail, which is marked by blue plaques. For each part of the walk David Thomas describes the route and gives the history of the landscape and the people that Dylan and Caitlin knew, and the time they spent in the area.
2. DYLAN THOMAS – THE PUBS
by Jeff Towns
Dylan Thomas is famous for enjoying a drink, but what he enjoyed most was the pub itself. A need for comradeship, shelter and the characters, wit and gossip. From the bars of London where he mixed with bohemian aristocrats to the pubs of Swansea with the Kardomah Gang and the local pubs in New Quay and Laughrane, this guide takes you through the details and stories associated with each place.
Artist Wyn Thomas has provided illustrations of the pubs.
Jeff Towns is one of the world’s leading Dylan Thomas experts, and is an antiquarian bookdealer in Swansea.
- THE POET AND THE PRIVATE EYE
by Rob Gittins
A novel which mixes fact and fiction shows Dylan Thomas’ last three weeks of life. Set in New York in 1953, a private investigator has been hired to follow Dylan Thomas, newly-arrived in America.
Rob Gittins researched the movements of Dylan Thomas in America – all of the events in the book actually happened but have been reorganised to fit the space of a three week period. The result is a gripping story which takes an original look the events and characters in his life.
Rob Gittins is an award-winning screenwriter who has written for numerous top-rated television drama series, including Eastenders, and film.
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