Welcome to the latest round up of news relating to the poet Dylan Thomas
The 2014 Dylan Thomas centenary was fittingly rounded off by two exciting developments. The ‘lost’ notebook, described by Professor John Goodby as “the most exciting discovery since his death in 1953” will return to South Wales after it was purchased at Sotheby’s by Swansea University, and Dylan’s granddaughter Hannah Ellis has announced that an annual day of celebration of the work of Dylan Thomas will be established; the first taking place on May 14th 2015.
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The emergence of a previously unknown Dylan Thomas notebook offered for sale by Sothebys had been the subject of considerable speculation regarding potential purchasers and the eventual destination of this unique document. On December 9th at Sotheby’s London saleroom bidding reached £85,000 (£104,500 incl. buyers premium) with the winning bid being made by Jeff Towns who was acting on behalf of Swansea University. So the notebook will return to Swansea where it will reside in the university’s Richard Burton Archive, forming the nucleus of what may well develop into a internationally important literary archive.
At an event to mark the end of celebrations for the Dylan Thomas centenary held at the National Library of Wales, Dylan’s granddaughter Hannah Ellis announced that May 14th 2015 would be the date of the first annual ‘Dylan Day‘, a day to celebrate the life and legacy of Dylan Thomas. The date chosen is the anniversary of the first cast performance of Under Milk Wood that took place at the 92Y Poetry Center in New York in 1953, with Dylan leading the cast. The Welsh Assembly Government has provided funding for three years and the event will be coordinated by Literature Wales.
Documents relating to Caitlin Thomas’s request that Dylan’s remains be removed from St Martin’s Churchyard and reburied within the garden of the Boathouse at Laugharne, have been released by the National Archives. Caitlin believed that the existing grave site was not fitting for “Wales’ foremost poet”, and wrote that “I should feel much happier if he were facing the water that he loved and wrote about in his poems.” It was recorded by one correspondent that Dylan’s mother was “not in sympathy with the widow’s proposal”. The Home Office was prepared to grant a license for the request but nothing further came of the plans.
Greek Politician Quotes Dylan
The day after the Syriza party had emerged as the leading party in the Greek election, one of it’s leaders Yanis Varoufakis paraphrased Dylan’s words when he was interviewed on Radio 4’s Today Programme. He said that “Greek democracy chose, to quote your very own Dylan Thomas, to stop going gently into the night and to rage against the dying of the light”. The mention led to ‘Dylan Thomas’ trending on Twitter in the UK. The story also featured on the front page of the Western Mail.
Dan y Wenallt Premiere
The big screen version of Dan y Wenallt, the Welsh language adaptation of Under Milk Wood, directed by Kevin Allen, has premiered on the big and small screen. It opened at cinemas around Wales on December 11th and was broadcast on S4C on December 27th. A behind the scenes look at the making of the film has also been screened on S4C. The film has been reviewed by the New Welsh Review and Wales Online. The English language version is due to be released in the Spring of 2015.
Ralph Maud, the pioneering Dylan Thomas scholar has died aged 85. Born in Canada in 1928, Maud was a founding English professor at Simon Fraser University and went on to become an authority on the work of Dylan Thomas. His publications include The Notebooks of Dylan Thomas, Entrances to Dylan Thomas’ Poetry, and Dylan Thomas in Print. He co-edited (with Walford Davies), the Collected Poems (1995) and Under Milk Wood (1988).
“Ralph Maud’s work (along with that of Walford Davies) was the bedrock on which all subsequent scholarship on Thomas has been built” says Professor John Goodby of Swansea University, “my study The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall (2013) and new Collected Poems (2014) are greatly in his debt. He edited the Broadcasts in 1991, and co-edited what was for twenty-six years the standard UK edition of the Collected Poems (with Walford Davies, in 1988); he also co-edited, again with Walford Davies, a definitive edition of Under Milk Wood. In 2003 he brought out a poem-by-poem guide titled Where Have The Old Words Got Me? – a book that, despite its occasional lapses, is still the sanest and most useful of its kind”.
Ralph Maud died on December 8th 2014.
Literchoor Is My Beat: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions by Ian S MacNiven, is now available from Farrar Straus Giroux. A biography of Dylan’s American publisher.
Later this year Graffeg will be publishing A Dylan Odyssey, edited by Literature Wales. Based on Literature Wales’ 2014 Dylan Thomas-inspired literary tourism programme, the book will feature fifteen Dylan Thomas trails across Wales, London, Oxford and New York.
The Christmas Wren by Gillian Clarke, published by Candlestick Press. A response to Dylan’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, commissioned by the Dylan Thomas Centre.
My Friend Dylan Thomas by Daniel Jones. A kindle version is now available from Amazon, with a new preface and introduction by Rob Roberts.
Dylan Thomas Made Genius: How Synaesthesia Influenced His Behaviour and Creativity by Dr David Sands. Available from Amazon.
Radio, TV & Film
As mentioned above, Dan y Wenallt has premiered on the big and small screen. Rhys Ifans who plays First Voice and Captain Cat spoke to the BBC and Wales Online. Rhodri Meilir presented a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film on S4C.
The only recent news to emerge about the planned movie Dominion starring Rhys Ifans as Dylan Thomas is a report of possible financial problems.
On a more trivial note, the title of Nicholas Cage’s latest movie Dying of the Light might have been inspired by Dylan’s Do Not Go Gentle.
The S4C documentary Dolig Gwyn Dolwyddelan, shown on December 21st, saw film buff Aled Llewelyn go in search of a ‘lost’ film based on A Child’s Christmas in Wales. The 1961 film was shot in cine montage style and used the 1952 recording of Dylan Thomas narrating the story. After hearing about the film on the internet, Aled went to San Francisco to meet the film’s creator, American photographer Marvin Lichtner, who later became famous for his pictures taken for Time Magazine. Dylan’s story is set in Swansea but, according to the Met Office, the most likely place in Wales to have a white Christmas in 1961 was Dolwyddelan, and so that became the setting for the film. The documentary also tracked down some of the the original cast of the 1961 film.
On Christmas Day BBC Radio 4 Cerys Matthews presented All the Christmases, a musical journey through the memories and characters of Swansea’s Christmas past and Dylan’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
Dylan Watch on TV & Radio – BBC News produced a 30 minute tribute to Dylan Thomas, Rock and Roll Poet. Nick Hennegan of Resonance FM and the London Literary Pub Crawl talked to Jeff Towns about the ‘lost’ notebook. Dame Julia Cleverdon, daughter of BBC radio producer Douglas Cleverdon was the latest castaway on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs to select a work by Dylan Thomas when she chose the iconic recording of Richard Burton opening Under Milk Wood in the production produced by her father in 1954.
In The Papers
Rhys Ifans, star of Dan y Wenallt was on the cover of Buzz magazine which also featured an article on the Dylan Thomas film Set Fire To The Stars. The Guardian included Dylan’s Rebecca’s Daughters in a list of the top 10 books of rural Wales. The same paper cited Dylan as one of their Heroes of 2014, and Alfred Hickling’s top 10 theatre of 2014 included the National Theatre of Wales’ Raw Material: Llareggub Revisited. The new Collected Poems edited by John Goodby made it onto The Independent‘s Christmas 2014 Best Poetry Books list, and the new edition of A Child’s Christmas in Wales published by Orion made it onto the Daily Express best children’s books for Christmas list. Whilst we’re on lists, the Mumsnet website also included the new edition of A Child’s Christmas in Wales on their list of Best new books for 8-12 year olds.
The Times Literary Supplement reviewed several recent Dylan Thomas titles. The Australian ran a piece on Dylan. Chris Moss discussed literary tourism and the Dylan Thomas centenary in the New Welsh Review. In Wales Online Hilly Janes talked about how Dylan’s image had been changed by the centenary year. The Economist published a blog about Dylan Thomas and Laugharne. The Independent‘s obituary for actor David Ryall mentioned the Dylan Thomas related stage work Ryall had been involved in during the 1970s. Tony Lewis‘s debut as a columnist for Wales Online looked at the new book by David Sands that explores whether Dylan might have been autistic. At Buffalo, the magazine for alumni and friends of the State University of New York at Buffalo, ran a cover story about the exhibition of Dylan Thomas manuscripts from the Buffalo collection in Wales.
Dylan Odyssey Gallery
Literature Wales have created a gallery of photographs documenting the Dylan Odyssey tours of 2014.
Ruth Crafer Portraits
Photographer Ruth Crafer has created a gallery of some of the fine portraits she took during last October’s Dylathon.
Geoff Haden’s Award
Geoff Haden of the Dylan Thomas Birthplace has received an Outstanding Services to Tourism Award at the 2014 Swansea Bay Tourism Awards.
Llansteffan Wind Turbine
A judicial review has taken place in Cardiff into the decision to allow the building of a wind turbine at Llansteffan opposite the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne. The original decision to approve the wind turbine has met with opposition from some local residents and those campaigning to protect the view from the Boathouse. More details of the campaign can be found here. The result of the review is expected soon.
Into Film Competition
The competition for young Welsh film makers to make a film celebrating Dylan Thomas in his centenary year has been won by run by pupils from Cleddau Reach VC Primary School, Pembrokeshire, for their documentary on Dylan Thomas.
Skin Trade Goes Down Under
Theatr Iolo have announced that their stage adaptation of Dylan’s Adventures in the Skin Trade will visit two of Australia’s most prestigious venues during 2015; the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne Arts Centre.
Amanda Wrigley on Under Milk Wood
Dr Amanda Wrigley, Research Fellow in the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster, has written a piece on the radio, television and stage productions of Under Milk Wood for the Autumn 2014 edition of Critical Studies in Television: The international journal of television studies. She has also discussed the same on her blog.
Christmas spirit from Matthew Rhys
Actor Matthew Rhys visited the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff on Christmas eve to treat the patients to readings from A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
Opera & Theatre Awards
The operatic version of Under Milk Wood by John Metcalf that premiered at Taliesin Arts Centre in 2014 has been shortlisted for an International Opera Award. The same production has also been shortlisted in two categories at the Welsh Theatre Awards. There were also Welsh Theatre Award nods for Rhodri Miles’ portrayal of Dylan Thomas in Clown in The Moon, and for Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton for their work on the dance performance Caitlin. Theatr Iolo’s Adventures in the Skin Trade is shortlisted in two categories, as is Clwyd Theatr Cymru’s production of Under Milk Wood.