Monday, 27 October 2014

Happy birthday, Dylan Marlais Thomas

The official website is here and there are mini-biographies easily found on the Web. This one sets him in a Welsh literary tradition.

I've already blogged about Thomas's musical links, but he mixed with artists as well. Alfred Janes was another one of the Kardomah Boys. He inspired artists, notably Ceri Richards. His connection with the Euston Road group (his wife Caitlin, who had been a model for Augustus John, was the sister of Anthony Devas's wife Nicolette, and the Thomases had set up home in Camden Town) was perhaps not as inspiring.

Drinking was part of the culture he grew up in, but John Arlott and others who worked with him at the BBC attested to his professionalism as a poetry reader and actor on radio. (Incidentally, there is a typo in the article I have linked to: "John Pudley" should read "John Pudney".)

It has been observed that Thomas's reputation is higher in the US than it is here. It did not help that the London literary establishment turned against him, prominently Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis. One of his biographers even suggested that he was lucky to die when he did because his only worthwhile work was long behind him - a view which I have also heard Professor Dai Smith express. Yet, according to Jeff Towns in this radio programme, "In Country Sleep", a slim volume published only in the United States in the year before his death contained new work well up to the standard of his previous poetry.

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