Click here to skip to content

Thomas, Dylan (1914-1953)

The British Library holds many first and later editions of Thomas's poetry and prose, as well as sound recordings of his readings, letters, and notebooks and magazines in which his first poems were published. We also have letters and manuscripts of early poems.

Introduction | Links | Poetry | Prose | Drama | Biography | Bibliography | Literary criticism | Related works |

Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales in 1914, the son of an irascible schoolmaster. He moved to London to embark on a literary career. His first book of poetry entitled 18 Poems appeared in 1934 and was followed by Twenty-five Poems (1936), Deaths and Entrances (1946) and Collected Poems (1952). The impetus for much of his verse came from Thomas's romanticised, idealised childhood e.g., Fern Hill (in Deaths and Entrances 1946) is about summer holidays in a rustic idyll. Thomas also wrote prose, chiefly short stories that were collectively published under the title Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog (1940). He wrote a number of film scripts and broadcast frequently on the radio. His most famous work, Under Milk Wood was written as a play for voices and first performed in New York on 14th May 1953. Thomas died on 9 November 1953 in New York at the age of 39.

The British Library's Department of Manuscripts holds unique items including a manuscript of Thomas’s early poems dated from the period 1930-33:(Manuscripts Shelfmark Add 48217), a collection of 73 letters dated from 1936-52: (Manuscripts Shelfmark Add. 52612), and a hand-written “Author’s Prologue” to a volume of his Collected Poems, published in 1952: (Manuscripts Shelfmark Add 52903).

Our Modern British Collections contain many of the first editions of the published materials by Dylan Thomas including 18 Poems, (1934) (Shelfmark Cup.403.d.1), and The Hand, an extremely rare item, one of 10 copies designed by Frederic Prokosch (published in Paris 1969) (Shelfmark Cup.512.a246). These and other printed books and periodicals are entered in Explore the British Library. The sound recordings of Thomas’s poems recited by the poet may be found in the Sound Archive Catalogue http://cadensa.bl.uk.

In the Library's Humanities Reading Room his Collected Poems are shelved at HLR.821.912THO.

Links

British Library Manuscripts Catalogue
British Library Sound Archive Catalogue

Dylan Thomas Appreciation Society
Dylan Thomas Centre
Jeff Towns A rare book dealer and famous expert on Dylan Thomas
National Library of Wales
UK National Register of Archives

The Dylan Thomas Society of Great Britain
Membership: Esme Loxton
6, Glanbryndan Ave
Uplands
Swansea SA2 OHR
Wales

Poetry

18 Poems .. Shelfmark: Cup.403.d.1

Twenty-Five Poems . London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1936. Shelfmark: 11655.ee.82

The World I Breathe. Norfolk, Conn: New Directions, 1939. Shelfmark: 011388.i.28

The Map of Love. Verse and Prose. [With a portrait]. London: J.M. Dent & Sons,  1939.Shelfmark: 12274.m.5

New Poems. Norfolk, Conn: New Directions, 1943. Shelfmark: 11769.b.2

Deaths and Entrances. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1946. Shelfmark: 11657.e.58

In Country Sleep, and Other Poems. [With a portrait]. New York: James Laughlin, 1952. Shelfmark: Cup.510.p.8

Collected Poems, 1934-1952. [With a portrait]. London: J.M. Dent, 1952. Shelfmark: 11613.bb.15

The Hand.Paris: Impremeriedu Trocadero, 1969. Limited edition no 3. One of10 hand -illustrated copies signed by the artist Frederic Prokosch. Shelfmark: Cup.512.a.246.

Fern Hill. London: Phoenix,1996. Shelfmark: YK.1996.a.17247.

Selected Poems. Dylan Thomas. Edited with an introduction and notesby Walford Davies. London: Phoenix, 2000. Shelfmark: Y.C.2001.a.2937

Prose

The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog.London: J.M. Dent, 1940. Shelfmark: X.981/2280

The Doctor and the Devils. [A film scenario]. From the Story by DonaldTaylor. London: J.M. Dent, 1953. Shelfmark: 011781.i.131

Quite Early One Morning. Broadcasts, etc. [With a portrait]. London: J.M. Dent, 1954. Shelfmark: 12302.a.55

A Child's Christmas in Wales. Norfolk, Conn: NewDirections, 1954. Shelfmark: 12452.gg.8

A Prospect of the Sea: and other stories and prose writings. Edited by Daniel Jones [With a portrait]. London: J.M. Dent, 1955. Shelfmark: 12362.aa.29

Adventures in the skin trade, and other stories. London: J.M. Dent, 1955. Shelfmark: NNN.6505

Letters to Vernon Watkins. Edited with an introduction by Vernon Watkins. London: J.M. Dent, 1957. Shelfmark: 10923.ee.48

The Beach of Falesá. Based on astory by Robert Louis Stevenson. London: Jonathon Cape,1964. Shelfmark: X.909/1741

Early prose writings…edited with an introduction by Walford Davies. London: J.M. Dent, 1971. Shelfmark: X.989/11694

Drama

Under Milk Wood. A play for voices. Preface and musical settings by Daniel Jones. London: J.M. Dent, 1954. Shelfmark: 12472.t.29

Biography

Lycett, Andrew. A New Life. London: Weidenfeldand Nicholson, 2003. Shelfmark: To be added.

Thomas, Caitlin. Double drinkstory, my life with Dylan Thomas. London: Virago, 1998. Shelfmark: YK.2000.a. 4826.

Nashold, James and Tremlett, George. The death of Dylan Thomas. Edinburgh: 1997. Shelfmark: YC.1999.b.3299.

Rowe, David. Fern Hill to MilkWood, the bumpy road to glory. Llandysul: Gomer, 1999. Shelfmark: YK.2002.a.3807

Brinnin, John Malcolm. Dylan Thomas in America: an Intimate Journal. London: Arlington, 1988. 'Shelfmark: YC.1989.a.6565. Later edition.London: Prion, 2000. Shelfmark: YC.2001.a.10657.

Gittins, Rob. The Last days of Dylan Thomas. London: Macdonald, 1986. Shelfmark: YH.1986.a.182.

Ferris, Paul. Dylan Thomas. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1977. Shelfmark: X.981/20662.

Later edition: London, Phoenix, 2000. Shelfmark:YC.2001.a.15695

Fitzgibbon, Constantine. The Life of Dylan Thomas. London: Dent, 1975. Shelfmark: X.909/41223

Bibliography

Magoon, Joseph. A bibliography of writings about Dylan Thomas for 1960 to 1989. Bournemouth: J.Maggon, 1994. Shelfmark: 2725.g.2113.

Maud, Ralph and Glover, Albert. Dylan Thomas in Print: A bibliographical history. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970. Shelfmark: 2785.ct.55

Rolph, J. Alexander. Dylan Thomas: A bibliography. London: Dent, 1956. Shelfmark: 11928.b.7

Literary Criticism

Cox, C.B. (ed.). Dylan Thomas: A collection of critical essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1966. Shelfmark: 11880.bb.2/58

Kershner, R.B. Jr. Dylan Thomas. Chicago: American Library Association, 1976. Shelfmark: X.981/22074

Related Works

Laurie, Hilary. Dylan Thomas's Wales. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999, Shelfmark: YC.2001.b.1096.

Ackerman, John. Welsh Dylan: Dylan Thomas's life, writing, and his Wales. Bridgend: Seren, 1998. Shelfmark:YC.1999.a.4262.

Davies, James A. Dylan Thomas places: A biographical and literary guide. Swansea: Christopher Davies, 1987. Shelfmark: YC.1988.a.2433.

Farringdon. Michael G. and Farringdon Julian M. (eds.). A Concordance and word-lists to the poetry of Dylan Thomas. Oxford:Oxford Microform Publications, 1980. Shelfmark: Cup.935/519

Thomas-Ellis, Aeronwry. Christmas and other memories: A daughter remembers Dylan. London: Amwy Press, 1978. Shelfmark:YA.1998.a.11799

Welsh Dylan. Exhibition catalogue tomark the anniversary of the poet's death. Welsh Arts Council, 1973. Shelfmark:YD.2004.b.362

Maud, Ralph Noel (ed.). Poet in the making: The notebooks of Dylan Thomas. London: Dent, 1968. Shelfmark: X.909/14594

Tindall, William York. A Reader's Guide to Dylan Thomas. London: Thames & Hudson, 1962. Shelfmark: 11880.ff.32

Featured authors and special collections