One of the most famous Welshmen of the 20th century, Dylan Thomas, was born on this day in 1914. As today would have been his 107th birthday, I thought I’d delve into the Library’s collection of electronic resources to see what I could find about one of our most important poets.
Where best to start than this comprehensive entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. This gives an insight into his upbringing and education, and discusses his development as a poet, his rise to fame and his notorious behaviour which led to his untimely death at the age of 39:
Thomas was undoubtedly one of Swansea’s most famous sons, and this World Literature Today article from JSTOR walks us through the many locations in this ‘ugly, lovely town’ that are associated with him:
Under Milk Wood is probably Thomas’ most famous work, originally conceived as a play for radio. Shortly after its premiere on BBC Radio, it won the Prix Italia best for literary/dramatic programme. Due to its huge success, it was quickly adapted for stage and screen. This article from Critical Studies in Television (Sage Journals) analyses the transformation into these physical mediums, and whether they were as successful:
Following on from this article, I found a gushing Daily Mail review of the first complete UK performance of Under Milk Wood, held at London’s Old Vic in 1954. In the review, found in Gale Primary Sources, the reviewer states that he found the play in print to be an “unwieldy mass of adjectives”. It’s clear that the cast, which included his compatriot Richard Burton and Dame Sybil Thorndike, helped raise the play to another level. “On the stage, the magic of these eight voices set the ears ablaze with his verbal fireworks.” A gust of Wicked Welsh fun indeed!!
What better way to end than to leave you with this collection of quotes taken from Chambers Dictionary of Great Quotations, available via Credo Reference. They include quotes from Thomas’ various works, as well as a number of famous personal quotes:
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