Know Your History – 27th October – Dylan Thomas born

know your history - writingOn this day… 27th October, 1914 – Dylan Thomas born

Dylan Marlais Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion”, the “Play for Voices”, Under Milk Wood, and stories and radio broadcasts such as A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. He became popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature death in New York City. In his later life he acquired a reputation, which he encouraged, as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet”.

On Writing

Thomas once confided that the poems which had most influenced him were Mother Goose rhymes which his parents taught him when he was a child:

“I should say I wanted to write poetry in the beginning because I had fallen in love with words. The first poems I knew were nursery Dylan Thomasrhymes and before I could read them for myself I had come to love the words of them. The words alone. What the words stood for was of a very secondary importance … I fell in love, that is the only expression I can think of, at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behaviour very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy. I tumbled for words at once. And, when I began to read the nursery rhymes for myself, and, later, to read other verses and ballads, I knew that I had discovered the most important things, to me, that could be ever.”

Did You Know?

Dylan Thomas wrote in a shed

Dylan Thomas’s Writing Shed in Laugharne (“my word-splashed hut”, as he described it) was where the poet retreated to work during the last four years of his life.

Perched on the cliff overlooking the Taf estuary, held up by stilts balanced on the rocks, he would gaze from his desk at the sands, sea and beautiful Gower peninsula – and compose some of the most lyrical verse in the English language. The Writing Shed and neighbouring Boathouse where Dylan lived are open to the public and should be on a must-see list for an enlightening visit to Wales.

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