Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales, in 1914. He had a sister, Nancy, older than he by some eight years. Thomas spoke no Welsh, although both of his parents had spoken Welsh in their childhood homes. Thomas’s father had written poetry in his youth; he was a schoolmaster, an atheist, and had deliberately rejected the Welsh language. Thomas attended the Swansea grammar school. When he was seventeen, he became an apprentice reporter and proofreader for the South Wales Daily Post, and he did not attend a university. He began to publish his first poems in newspapers in the early 1930’s. He was also an amateur actor with the Swansea Little Theatre. (A friend and fellow actor, Malcolm Graham, has written, “The more fantastic the part, the better Dylan was.”) It was during these years that Thomas’s voice became strong and acquired the resonance that was to make him as famous as his poetry.
In 1934, Thomas moved to London, and in that year, his first collection, Eighteen Poems, was published. In 1937, Thomas married Caitlin Macnamara, and their first child, Lewelyn, was born in 1939. After the outbreak of World War II, Thomas tried to enlist for military service but was rejected. His second child, Aeron, was born in 1943. The family spent the years from 1940 to 1945 living in or near London, Thomas working on scenarios for documentary films. His first radio broadcast for the British Broadcasting Corporation had been made in 1937,...
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