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English Literature

Dylan Thomas: The Hunchback in the Park


Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) is probably the most famous Welsh poet of all time. This is both despite - and because of - his relatively short life, which was lived wildly, and characterised by alcoholism that eventually killed him.

He was born in Swansea, South Wales. He wrote and spoke in English, even though both his parents spoke fluent Welsh. His father was an English teacher and used to read a lot to him when he was very young. Shakespeare was a particular favourite. Dylan Thomas loved language and did very well in English though not so well in other subjects. He left school at 16 to become a junior reporter for his local newspaper.

His first book of poetry, 18 Poems, published in 1934, was a success and so he moved to London. He also started to drink heavily, a habit which eventually blighted the rest of his short life. Two years later he met Caitlin MacNamara and married her in 1937. They were well known for having a stormy relationship. In 1944 they moved from London to a small village called Laugharne in West Wales.

Thomas became well known for his deep, rich Welsh voice. He made more than 200 broadcasts on BBC radio and did speaking tours in America, where he was very popular, partly because he lived up to the stereotype of a maverick poet - intelligent, gifted and passionate but also drunk, reckless and argumentative.

It was on his fourth and last trip to America in 1953 that he died after a prolonged drinking session. His body was brought back from New York to Laugharne where he was buried. When his wife died in 1994, she was buried with him.

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