Dylan Thomas 100 years
This year is the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas (1914-1953). For Dagens Nyheter I spent a day with reporter Marianne Björklund following in Dylan’s trail.
Our first stop was to visit his birth place, an Edwardian house perched high up on 5 Cwmdonkin Drive with views over Swansea. Over the past few years enthusiasts have been working on restoring the house to its original condition to when it was bought as a new house by the Thomas family. We were guided around the house by Matt Hughes who has diligently restored many rooms including Dylan’s extremely small bedroom. On his desk are his favourite Woodbine cigarettes and half a glass of Ale.
Visitors can also stay in the house with 4 of the original bedrooms available for booking.
Staying in Swansea we visited The Dylan Thomas Centre which has a large permanent exhibition about the life and work of Dylan Thomas. The collection contains unique archive material, rare manuscripts, artwork, photographs, books and original sound recordings – it is well worth a visit.
We then visited the small picturesque Georgian town of Laugharne that lies on the estuary of the River Taf – an hours drive to the West of Swansea. Dylan lived here from 1949 until his death in 1953. Laugharne is thought to have been an inspiration for the fictional town of Llareggub in Under Milk Wood which he wrote in his ‘writing shed’ which is perched on the side of a cliff supported by stilts. He lived in the nearby Boathouse for the last four years of his life with his wife Caitlin and it was from here he made the fatal journey to New York.
Dylan had many favourite ‘watering holes’ and we visited one of these, Browns Hotel for some liquid refreshment in the form of real Welsh ale. Nice.
Framed black & white photographs of Dylan & Caitlin drinking in the same bar adorned the walls. Our last visit was to the graveyard at St. Martin’s Church where Dylan & Caitlin are buried in the same grave which is marked by a simple white wooden cross.