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  • Dylan Thomas Day

    Dylan Day

    International Dylan Thomas Day - 14th May

    Each 14th May, Dylan John Thomas, his life and his literally works are celebrated and is known as International Dylan Thomas Day (Dylan Day for short). Considered to be one of the greatest Welsh poets of all time, Thomas is largely known for his imaginative use of language and vivid imagery in his poems. The 14th May is the anniversary of the date when Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at 92Y The Poetry Center, New York in 1953.

    Celebration Days and Festivals in Wales

    Here is a short list of celebration days and festivals in Wales. All these days are listed on the "Celebration Days in Wales" page below.

     

     

    International Dylan Thomas Day 14th May

     Dylan Thomas, born in 1914, died in 1953. More "All About Wales" Articles", click here...

     

    Life of Dylan John Thomas

    Born on 27th October 1914, in Swansea, South Wales, Dylan John Thomas was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems

    • Do not go gentle into that good night
    • And death shall have no dominion
    • Under Milk Wood¬†

    Dylan became exceptionally popular during his lifetime, and this continued after his premature death 9 November 1953 at the age of 39 in New York City.

    Dylan Thomas Day. Born in Swansea in 1914 and died in New York in 1953

    Early Career

    Thomas dropped out of school at sixteen to become a junior reporter for the South Wales Daily Post. By December of 1932, he left his job at the Post and decided to concentrate on his poetry full-time. It was during this time, in his late teens, that Thomas wrote more than half of his collected poems.

    In 1934, when Thomas was twenty, he moved to London, won the Poet's Corner book prize, and published his first book, 18 Poems (The Fortune press), to great acclaim. The book drew from a collection of poetry notebooks that Thomas had written years earlier, as would many of his most popular books. 

    Two years after the publication of 18 Poems, Thomas met the dancer Caitlin Macnamara at a pub in London. At the time, she was the mistress of painter Augustus John. Macnamara and Thomas engaged in an affair and married in 1937. 

    About Thomas's work, Michael Schmidt writes: "There is a kind of authority to the word magic of the early poems; in the famous and popular later poems, the magic is all show. If they have a secret it is the one we all share, partly erotic, partly elegiac. The later poems arise out of personality."

    London Era

    In 1940, Thomas and his wife moved to London. He had served as an anti-aircraft gunner but was rejected for more active combat due to illness. To avoid the air raids, the couple left London in 1944. Thomas recorded radio shows and worked as a scriptwriter for the BBC. Between 1945 and 1949, he wrote, narrated, or assisted with over a hundred radio broadcasts. In one show, "Quite Early One Morning," he experimented with the characters and ideas that would later appear in his poetic radio play Under Milk Wood (1953).

    New York Era

    In January 1950, at the age of thirty-five, Thomas visited America for the first time. His reading tours of the United States, which did much to popularize the poetry reading as a new medium for the art, are famous and notorious. Thomas was the archetypal Romantic poet of the popular American imagination‚ÄĒhe was theatrical, engaged in roaring disputes in public, and read his work aloud with tremendous depth of feeling.

    Dylan Thomas Boathouse

    Dylan Thomas lived at the Boathouse from 1949 to 1953. The Boathouse is now a heritage centre and contains audio visual presentations, original furnishings and memorabilia and a selection of paintings, prints and photographs. It was in the Boat House where Thomas would write many of his later poems including 'Do Not Go Gentle' and 'Under Milkwood'.

     

    Dylan Thomas Boathouse, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire
    Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne, born in 1914, died in 1953

     

    How Did Dylan Thomas Die?

    Thomas toured America four times, with his last public engagement taking place at the City College of New York. Here he performed the first readings of his verse play "Under Milk Wood" - on 19 October 1953. A few days later, he collapsed in the Chelsea Hotel after a long drinking bout. On November 9, 1953, he died at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City at the age of thirty-nine. The official diagnosis was that he died from a swelling of the brain caused by pneumonia and poor oxygen supply. Dylan's body was brought back to Wales, and he was buried in the churchyard at Laugharne on 29 November 1953. 

    He had become a legendary figure, both for his work and the boisterousness of his life and almost thirty years later, a plaque to Dylan was unveiled in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

     

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    Last updated 22nd November 2023

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