Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Family Ties - Dylan Thomas #Poet #Playwright

I have said much about family on this blog. Not all bad. Having researched my family tree a few years ago I "dug up" this pair. My maternal Grandmother remembered Dylan Thomas very well and she had photographs and keepsakes from him. Unfortunately when she became ill with dementia many of these went missing, were lost or destroyed. A photograph of her appears in the book Dylan Remembered: Vol. 1: 1914-1934. The family connection is fairly distant (My Great Great Grandmother was first cousin to Dylan Thomas) I am proud of the connection none the less.

THOMAS , DYLAN MARLAIS ( 1914 - 1953 ), poet and prose writer ; b. 27 Oct. 1914 in Swansea , s. of David John Thomas and his wife Florence Hannah (née Williams ) who themselves came from rural, Welsh -speaking families in Cardiganshire , and Carmarthenshire . The father, a nephew of William Thomas ‘ Gwilym Marles ’ ( DWB , 973) , was from 1899 to 1936 English master at Swansea grammar school , which Dylan Thomas attended from 1925 to 1931 . That was his only period of formal education and was followed by some fifteen months as junior reporter on the South Wales Daily Post . His early interest in English poetry had already borne fruit in the four notebooks in which he entered his first mature poems between 1930 and 1933 . These notebooks were to be the major source of poems for his first three published volumes: 18 Poems ( London , 1934 ), Twenty-five poems ( London , 1936 ), and The map of love (short stories and poems) ( London , 1939 ). Publication of individual poems in London periodicals led to his first volume, and that in turn to his arrival in London in Nov. 1934 . During the 1930s his work received increasing American as well as British attention and brought invitations to review books for leading London periodicals. Alternation between literary-social life in London and periods of greater actual creativity in Wales was to remain the pattern throughout his career. A close friendship with the poet Vernon Watkins (see below) in Swansea started in 1935 .

He met Caitlin Macnamara in 1936 and they were m. the following year. In May 1938 they moved for the first time to live in Laugharne, Carms. , the village now most intimately associated with his name, and a deep influence on his later work in verse and prose. He had been awarded the American Blumenthal Poetry Prize , and was writing the autobiographical short stories that were to be published as Portrait of the artist as a young dog ( London , 1940 ). The comic realism of these stories was in marked contrast to the macabre and surrealistic element in his earlier tales, which can be read in A Prospect of the sea ( London , 1955 ). Continuation of autobiographical material in the form of a novel remained unfinished, but was published as Adventures in the skin trade ( London , 1955 ). After the outbreak of World War II he started to write radio scripts for the B.B.C. and to take part in broadcast talks and readings . His popularity as a broadcaster remained to the end of his life, and the quality of his work for radio is reflected in the volume Quite early one morning ( London , 1954 ). From 1942 to the end of the war he was employed as a script-writer for Strand Films in London . An example of his work in this medium is The Doctor and the devils ( London , 1953 ).

The period of war had interrupted his writing of poetry, though towards the end of the war Wales became increasingly his major home. At Llangain and New Quay in 1944-45 a new period of poetic creativity started, the most productive since the early days in Swansea , leading to the publication of Deaths and entrances ( London , 1946 ). At the end of the war, however, he also started to show interest in visiting America , and the need to earn a living (mainly through work for films and radio ) meant having to be within reach of London . From 1946 to 1949 therefore the poet and his family lived in or near Oxford . He visited Prague in 1949 as guest of the Czechoslovakian government .

He moved to live in the ‘ Boat House ’ at Laugharne in May 1949 , where his third child was born, and where Thomas hoped to establish a permanent home, helped possibly by visits to America where his reputation as a poet was now firm. The first of these visits was in Feb.-June 1950 and was followed by three more in 1952 and 1953 . The individual work which occupied most of his time from 1950 onwards was the radio play Under Milk Wood ( London , 1954 ), the main inspiration for which were the atmosphere and inhabitants of Laugharne itself. During the second American tour his last individual volume of poems was published, in America only, as In country sleep ( New York , 1952 ). This completed the range of volumes that were to make up his Collected poems 1934-1952 ( London , 1952 ) and which won the award of the Foyle's Poetry Prize . The complications of heavy drinking and irresponsibility with money meant, however, that not even the profitable American visits were to remove the financial and personal insecurity which made the poet less and less productive of new work at home. He d. in New York on 9 Nov. 1953 and is buried at Laugharne .

Walford Davies , Dylan Thomas , Cardiff, 1972 ( 1972 );
[ J. Alexander Rolph , Dylan Thomas a bibliography , New York, 1956; 2nd ed. 1974 ( 1974 );
George M. A. Gaston , Dylan Thomas a reference guide , Boston, Mass., 1987 ( 1987 );
Ralph Maud , Dylan Thomas in print , Pittsburgh, 1970 ( 1970 );
John Ackerman , A Dylan Thomas Companion life, poetry and prose , Basingstoke, 1994 ( 1994 );
and see many biographies, including Paul Ferris ( 1977 ), John Ackerman ( 1964 , 1991 ), G. S. Fraser ( 1964 ), Constantine FitzGibbon ( 1965 ), Daniel Jones ( 1977 );
Walford Davies and Ralph Maud , Collected Poems 1934-53 , 1994 (1994) ].


Professor Walford Davies, Aberystwyth.

THOMAS , WILLIAM Gwilym Marles ; 1834 - 1879 ), Unitarian minister, social reformer, writer, and schoolmaster ; b. at Glan Rhyd y Gwiail , near Brechfa, Carms. , son of William and Ann Thomas (née Jones ) , but adopted by his father's sister. He was educated at Ffrwd-y-fâl school , 1851 , Carmarthen College , 1852-6 , and Glasgow University , 1856-60 , where he graduated M.A. He was an Independent when he went to Carmarthen College , but a Unitarian when he left it, and when he had completed his course at Glasgow he settled down as Unitarian minister of Bwlch-y-fadfa and Llwynrhydowen , where he remained from 1860 until his death. From Nov. 1857 to Feb. 1858 he was private tutor to Islwyn (q.v.) ; in 1855 he had written a novel for Seren Gomer . In 1859 he published his little book, Prydyddiaeth , and he edited and wrote a great deal for his periodical, Yr Athraw , during the short period of its existence from Sept. 1865 to Aug. 1867 . His chief contributions to the Ymofynydd were ‘ Cofion a Chyffesiadau ,’ 1861 , ‘ Hanner awr gyda'r Bardd o Bantycelyn ,’ 1863 , and ‘ Theodore Parker ,’ 1863-4 . He was completely converted to Parker 's theological and social views and, for that reason, may be regarded as the founder of modern Unitarianism in Wales . He joined wholeheartedly in the Liberal movement in Cardiganshire , and his contributions to the Press, his speeches, and his sermons aroused the antagonism of the landlords with the result that he and his congregation were turned out of the old Llwynrhydowen chapel , 29 Oct. 1876 . He took a leading part in the 1868 election and was a strong advocate of the secret ballot . He kept a school at Llandysul , 1860-79 , and was the means of starting a new Unitarian church in the town. He d. 11 Dec. 1879 , and was buried in the burial ground of the new chapel at Llwynrhydowen .Bibliography:
Gwilym Marles (‘Cyfres y Fil’), Llanuwchllyn, 1905 (‘Cyfres y Fil’), 1905 ; diaries and manuscripts in Llwynrhydowen library; Eminent Welshmen , 1908 ; Yr Ymofynnydd (memorial issue), Oct. 1934 ; R. J. Jones , The Unitarian Students at the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen…1796–1901 , 1901 .
Rev. David Jacob Davies, (1916-74), Aberdare / Alltyblaca, Llanybydder.

I would like to add, just for the record, that I suffered NO abuse from this side of the family...


GovManslaughter said...

Well Dylan used to come to my parents shop Which was half way between to of his watering holes in the Mumbles So the girls as they we called even by me at 10/11 would run away and my mother would put him right and serve him Normally with our own cooked ham on the bone ;o) XXX

GovManslaughter said...

Will try and post again ;o) My memory's of Dylan is when he used to come to my parents shop Which was half way between two of his watering holes in the Mumbles ;o)The girls as they were called even by me at the age of 10/11 would run away But mum could take control and serve him ham Home cooked on the bone ;o) and all would be well ;o) XXX

celesteka said...

Your heritage supports your excellence as a warrior, writer and friend :)

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