Dylan Thomas

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Dylan Thomas Monument, Maritime Quarter, Swansea, by John Doubleday

Dylan Marlais Thomas (born October 27, 1914 in Swansea , Wales , † November 9, 1953 in New York City ) was a Welsh writer . Thomas wrote poems , essays , letters , screenplays , autobiographical stories and a play : Under Milk Wood ( Under Milk Wood ), his major work, which as a radio play in 1954 posthumously with the Prix Italia award.


Birthplace, Swansea

Dylan Thomas was the second child of high school teacher David John Thomas and his wife Florence Williams. He was “born into a tradition where the Bible, sermon collections, and the Welsh classics were literature, and the chapel was Sunday entertainment. Preachers and poets were respected. ”At the age of four he learned Shakespeare by heart, and when he was eight he wrote his first poems himself. At the age of eleven he published some poems in the school newspaper of his high school, which he left prematurely in 1931 to earn two years as a journalist for the South Wales Daily Post in Swansea. He then devoted himself to the London bohemian life and his other passion, alcohol.

In 1934 his first collection of poems appeared in London: 18 Poems .

In 1937 he had his first broadcast on the BBC . In the same year he married the dancer Caitlin MacNamara (born December 8, 1913, † August 1, 1994), with whom he had three children. He was a staunch opponent of the war and escaped military service by showing up for examination full drunk and being given leave of absence due to illness. As a poet and writer, Dylan Thomas was very successful, whereas he was incapable of dealing with money. While his family was constantly lacking essentials, he sacrificed all money to his alcoholism .

Boathouse of the Thomas family in Laugharne, 2007

With Rebecca's Daughters he tried to write a script that could be read like a novel.

From 1949 until his death in 1953, Thomas lived with his family in a makeshift, two-story boat shed at the mouth of the Tâf near the fishing village of Laugharne in southern Wales . Laugharne was the model for the fictional place Llareggub from the piece Unter dem Milchwald that was created during this time . In order to be able to continue writing poems in peace, he went to the small bay window on the castle wall of the ruined Laugharne Castle on the coast.

Thomas was invited by the writer John Malcolm Brinnin to book tours in the USA. He first stayed at the artist hotel Chelsea Hotel in New York's Greenwich Village , which he did on all four trips to the USA. On his third lecture tour through the USA with his own poems, he was asked for a libretto for an opera by Igor Stravinsky , who wanted a text by the “best living writer”. It shouldn't come to that; Thomas died of pneumonia , which he could never cure because of his excessive alcohol. Thomas was buried in Laugharne.

Works and editions of works

Poem Was there a time at a house in Leiden
Dylan Thomas' grave in Laugharne Cemetery


  • Walford Davies, Ralph Maud (Eds.): Collected Poems 1934–1953 . Dent, London 1998. (Follows Thomas' own thematic arrangement of his poems)
  • John Goodby (Ed.): The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 2014. (Extended edition, annotated and in chronological order)
  • The Collected Stories. Dent, London 1983.
  • Early Prose Writings. Ed .: Walford Davies. Dent, London 1971.
  • Quite early one morning . Dent, London 1954.
  • Dylan Thomas reading . (Under this title, Caedmon published some readings of his own works from 1952/53).
  • Selected letters . Dent, London 1966.


  • Under the milk forest. A game for voices . Reclam's Universal Library 7930, Ditzingen 1998, ISBN 3-15-007930-6 (Original title: Under Milk Wood . Translated by Erich Fried , first German-language edition 1954, Drei Brücken Verlag, Heidelberg).
  • Questioning the echo . Early stories and essays. With notes and afterword. Translation Erich Fried , Detlev Gohrbandt, Klaus Martens . (= Dylan Thomas: Selected Works in Individual Editions. Ed. Klaus Martens. Volume 1) Carl Hanser, Munich 1991, ISBN 978-3-446-15083-6 ; S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1995, ISBN 3-596-11361-X .
  • Wind blown light . Poems in English-German. With notes, preface and epilogue. Translation Reinhard Paul Becker, Erich Fried, Klaus Martens u. a. (= Dylan Thomas: Selected Works in Individual Editions. Ed. Klaus Martens. Volume 2). Carl Hanser, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-446-15080-3 ; S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1995, ISBN 3-596-11362-8 .
  • Portrait of the artist as a puppy . Autobiographical narratives. With notes and afterword. Translation Klaus Martens, Erich Fried u. a. (= Dylan Thomas: Selected Works in Individual Editions. Ed. Klaus Martens. Volume 3). Carl Hanser, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-446-15084-6 ; S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1995, ISBN 3-596-11363-6 .
  • Under the Milky Forest, Texts for Voices: Selected Letters. With notes and afterword. Translation: Erich Fried, Klaus Martens, Margit Peterfy. (= Dylan Thomas: Selected Works in Individual Editions. Ed. Klaus Martens. Volume 4). Carl Hanser, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-446-15085-4 ; S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1999, ISBN 3-596-11364-4 .
  • Poems . Selected by Raoul Schrott , Siegfried Völlger and Michael Krüger . From Klaus Martens, ed., Partial translation. Wind blown light . Hanser, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-446-19713-3 .


Radio plays


In the meantime (2010) over 300 publications have been published on Dylan Thomas:

  • Bill Read: Dylan Thomas in self-testimonies and image documents. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1989, ISBN 978-3-499-50143-2 .
  • Aeronwy Thomas: My father's house. Constable, London 2009, ISBN 1-84901-005-6 .
  • Elke Heidenreich , Tom Krausz: Dylan Thomas. Welsh, poet, drinker . Knesebeck, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-86873-222-1 (Awarded the Corine Book Prize ).
  • Hilly Janes: The three lives of Dylan Thomas. Robson, London 2014, ISBN 978-1-84954-688-1 .
  • William Christie: Dylan Thomas. A literary life. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke et al. a. 2014, ISBN 978-1-137-32256-2 .
  • Patrick Gill: Origins and effects of poetic ambiguity in Dylan Thomas's collected poems (= Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz: Mainz University studies in English , Volume 20, WVT), Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier 2014, ISBN 978-3-86821-545-8 ( Dissertation University of Mainz 2008, 180 pages).

Films and plays about Dylan Thomas

Sound carrier


Thomas' desk, Boathouse , Laugharne, 1955
  • Igor Stravinsky composed the piece In memoriam Dylan Thomas for tenor, string quartet and four trombones the year after Thomas' death .
  • Johannes Bobrowski wrote a poem in May 1959 with the title "Dylan Thomas", which was published in 1961 in his first volume of poetry, Sarmatik Zeit .
  • After listening to the radio play version of Under Milk Wood several times, pianist Stan Tracey wrote the jazz suite Under Milk Wood for his quartet , which he recorded on the album of the same name in 1965.
  • In 1989 John Cale set the Words for the Dying to music with orchestral music in his album of the same name.
  • Thomas' poem Do not go gentle into that good night is a leitmotif of the science fiction film Interstellar (2014).
  • In 2015 an asteroid was named after him: (13130) Dylanthomas .

Web links

Commons : Dylan Thomas  - Collection of images, videos and audio files



Individual evidence

  1. Dylan Thomas birthplace , page on his birthplace in Swansea (English)
  2. ^ David Larsen: The Company of the Creative. A Christian Reader's Guide to Great Literature and its Themes . Kregel, Grand Rapids 1999. Therein on Dylan Thomas: pp. 258-260, citation p. 258.
  3. Elke Heidenreich : Dylan Thomas - poet with fuel alcohol. ( Memento of the original from February 5, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: arte , January 31, 2010.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.arte.tv
  4. Jakob Strobel y Serra: Naked past the tavern. Dylan Thomas led an intoxicated life. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , October 23, 2014, pp. R1 and R3.
  5. Review of: Dylan Thomas: Return Journey . (English).
  6. Ulrich Ott, Friedrich Pfäfflin (Ed.): Johannes Bobrowski or Landscape with People . Marbach Catalogs 46. Marbach 1993, ISBN 3-928882-99-6 , p. 443.
  7. ^ Johannes Bobrowski : Sarmatian time. Shadowland currents. Poems. New edition in one volume . DVA, Stuttgart 1961, ISBN 3-421-01560-0 , pp. 31-32.