A suggested reading list of books by, or about, Dylan Thomas.
If you’re new to Thomas or want a single volume to carry with you, then the Dylan Thomas Omnibus is an excellent place to start. You’ll find all the poems from Dylan’s published collections here, along with Under Milk Wood, and a good selection of short-stories and broadcasts.
For those wanting to dig deeper into the poetry The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas; edited by John Goodby, is the latest and most complete collection, and has recently been published in paperback. There are excellent notes too.
A lesser known part of the Thomas canon are the early surrealist stories, and these, along with his later autobiographical tales can be found in the Collected Stories.
The Collected Letters, edited by Paul Ferris, are a real treasure trove worthy of exploration. Download the kindle version or seek out a secondhand copy of the print version.
For the latest in critical study go to The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall by John Goodby (2013). The first major critical study of Thomas’s work for many years, the book reappraises Thomas’s work in the light of contemporary critical theory, and offers a re-evaluation of Thomas’s poetry for the 21st century.
The highly accessible A Dylan Thomas Companion by John Ackerman (1991) is now out of print, but worth seeking out as a good general introduction to Thomas’s poetry and prose.
For those interested in Thomas’s life, Dylan Thomas : The Biography by Paul Ferris (1977), has been the definitive biography for many years.
Andrew Lycett’s Dylan Thomas : A New Life (2003) has challenged that title in recent years and offers new information.
The latest title in the biography field is The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas by Hilly Janes (2014). Janes, the daughter of Thomas’s close friend Alfred Janes, explores the myths surrounding Thomas and looks at his legacy.
Dylan’s time in New Quay during the second world war is well explored in David N Thomas’s Dylan Thomas: A Farm, Two Mansions and a Bungalow (2000)
Caitlin tells her side of the story in My life with Dylan Thomas: double drink story by Caitlin Thomas (2008)
Aeronwy Thomas’s charming memoir of life with her father My Father’s Places (2010)
Another intimate and enlightening memoir is Dylan Thomas: Portrait of a Friend by Gwen Watkins (2005).
The book that perhaps did more than any other to create some of the long-lasting myths about Dylan Thomas is out-of-print. John Malcolm Brinnin’s best-selling account Dylan Thomas in America (1957) presents a rather sensationalist account of Dylan’s American tours, but is a good read nonetheless.
The well-researched Fatal Neglect : Who killed Dylan Thomas? by David N Thomas (2008) offers a more accurate account of Dylan’s final days, and explores some of the myths and mysteries surrounding Thomas’s death.
Dylan Thomas: A Centenary Celebration This 2014 collection, edited by the poet’s granddaughter Hannah Ellis, contains some fascinating essays by some of the leading authorities on Thomas’s work and life.
A Dylan Odyssey (2015) is a beautifully illustrated collection of literary tours that explore different landscapes connected to Dylan Thomas.
Dylan Thomas: The Pubs (2013) by Jeff Towns takes a look at Thomas’s relationship with some of his favourite drinking haunts. With illustrations by Wyn Thomas, and photographs of rare Thomas ephemera.
Dylan Thomas and the Bohemians by Gabriel & Leonie Summers, with Jeff Towns (2013). A look at Thomas’s relationship with the bohemian circle that included the photographer Nora Summers, whose iconic photographs illustrate this beautifully presented book.
Another beautifully presented book is the Sir Peter Blake illustrated version of Under Milk Wood (2014).
Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Although out-of-print, this is well worth looking out for. Ralph Maud has collected Dylan’s BBC broadcasts including the well-known Return Journey and Holiday Memory, alongside lesser know gems such as Living in Wales and The Londoner.
Another out-of-print gem is Portrait of Dylan: A Photographer’s Memoir by Rollie McKenna (1982). McKenna’s iconic photographs of Dylan and Laugharne grace this lovely book.
I love his poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” I bought a collection of his poems a while ago and have been wanting to read more of his work! Thanks for sharing.