On this date…23rd January 1932

The Herald of Wales ran an article entitled Tragedy of Swansea’s Comic Genius by its junior reporter Dylan Thomas. Dylan looked at the life of Llewelyn Prichard, poet, artist and actor. Prichard was perhaps best known for creating many tales around the Welsh ‘Robin Hood’ figure from Welsh folklore, ‘Twm Shon Catti’

Dylan’s opening lines were eerily self prophetic…

“No one can deny that the most attractive figures in literature are always those around whom a world of lies and legend has been woven, those half mythical artists whose real characters become cloaked forever under a veil of the bizarre.”

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

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On this date…18th January 1934 – and the history of the Mumbles Press

The Mumbles Press reviewed the Swansea Little Theatre’s performance of The Way of the World. Dylan Thomas played the character of Witwould but his performance does not receive a special mention within the review. 

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The Mumbles Press was published every Thursday, and sold for one penny. It provided local news, natural history, religious notes and romantic serials. The boys who sold the paper were paid 1d per dozen sold.

The following is a piece by Sylvia Bagley about the newspaper, a fixture of Mumbles and Swansea life for many years until the mid 1930s. Her father was its founder C.E. Tucker.

“For over thirty years, the Mumbles Press was a key institution of Mumbles life. My father, Christopher ‘C.E.’ Tucker, was its founder and driving spirit. In 1956, when he retired, he was described as ‘the man who put Mumbles on the map’ and he worked tirelessly to promote the Mumbles that he loved.”

“He first set up a printing business in the Dunns, where Solo now stands. Then in 1903 he bought No 8 The Dunns. And for over thirty years, until 1936, he promoted Mumbles through the Mumbles Press. At the same time, with my mother, Florence, he ran a local shop for both residents and visitors, with all sorts of seaside materials, smokes – and his very own lending library.”

“He and my mother were married in 1912, and the Mumbles Press chronicles in detail the clothes and jewellery of the bride and the bridesmaids – and all the presents received, and from whom. It was a grand wedding, at Clyne Chapel, Blackpill. And the reception was at the the Ship & Castle Hotel, the site of the present-day Conservative Club. Among the family records is one of continuing interest to present-day Mumbles. In 1916, a young apprentice printer was indentured to my father, to receive 5 shillings for the first year, increasing by one shilling per year for seven years. It was one Richard Cottle, son of Charles Cottle – none other than the grandfather of Tony Cottle known in this generation as the ‘eyes and ears of Mumbles’, and still providing a printing service. Charles Cottle (Tony Cottle’s grandfather) was the last lighthouseman of Mumbles – a real character, who had a cat which could swim and catch fish… Richard did not complete his full seven-year training, and the Indenture was eventually cancelled.”

“The Mumbles Press was published every Thursday, and sold for one penny. It provided local news, natural history, religious notes and romantic serials. The boys who sold the paper were paid 1d per dozen sold.”

“My father was also a Councillor, a Member of Mumbles Urban District Council and was instrumental, following its closure, in getting a Branch Library established on the site. When the Urban District Council was abolished in 1923, and Mumbles came to be run by Swansea Corporation, he used to complain that there was much less local news to report.”

“The Corporation has not done a lot for the district’, he observed in 1956, ‘not as much as they should have. It was different in the old days when we had our own urban council. Things were a lot livelier…”

“He was also for many years a member of the Swansea Improvement Association, publicising the Mumbles area – though his view remained that ‘Mumbles does not properly cater for visitors…”

“The present City Council should think about that – while the Community Council does now try to address my father’s concerns about local interests, local colour and community identity.
My daughter Susan, who lives in Malvern, is carrying on the family tradition: she and her husband run a printing company there. My father would have been very proud to know that the family tradition is being maintained.”

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

 

On this date…16th January 1934

The Swansea Little Theatre began their five night run of performances at Southend, Mumbles, of their latest undertaking, the 18th Century William Congreve comedy, The Way of the World.

Dylan played the part of the foolish young Witwoud. The programme however, listed him as ‘Dilyn’ Thomas.

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Mrs. Evelyn Burman a fellow cast mate of Dylan’s at the Little Theatre recalled Dylan’s impromptu trips to the ‘Prince of Wales’ pub or ‘Cheeses’ as it was known locally due to the owner being one Mr. Cheddar. She said…

‘In 1934 I played the very minor role of Mincing..woman to Mrs. Millamant in The Way of the World and as Dylan was Witwoud, a follower of Mrs. Millamant, it meant that we were often waiting in the wings. He would say to me ‘Mincing! I’m mincing off’ (the pub was less than two minutes from the theatre.)

She went on to say,

‘he never failed to appear ready for his next entry’ by all accounts Dylan was a burgeoning great actor and could hold his audience in a transfixed state.’

Of the performances of this Congreve play Evelyn recounted,

‘One of his (Dylan’s) lines, ‘Gad, I have forgot what I was about to say to you’ he used more than once to cover up a whirlwind entry until he composed himself.’

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…14th January 1927

12 year old D.M. Thomas of Swansea had a poem entitled His Requiem published in Wales’ national newspaper, the Western Mail.

Nearly 45 years later it was discovered that he had cribbed the verse from one of his favourite boyhood reads The Boy’s Own Paper of November 1923. Had the act been committed for mere devilment? More likely it had been an attempt by the young boy with aspirations of becoming a poet, to gain the approval from his parents which he so craved.

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The paper would send the Thomases a postal order of 10 shillings as payment but Dylan’s parents were so proud of their son’s achievement that it was never spent.

In 1971, upon publication of Dylan Thomas: The Poems (edited by Dylan’s great friend Daniel Jones) a keen eyed reader by the name of Mr. Richard Parker of London alerted The Sunday Telegraph to this poem which featured in the book’s Early Poems section. It seems that Mr. Parker had a very good memory and remembered His Requiem being published by a Miss Lillian Gard, a regular contributor of poems and stories to the Boy’s Own Paper in the 1920s.

As a result, Daniel Jones book at first carried a publisher’s note acknowledging the new finding and then the poem was removed in later editions.

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

A Visit from America…Taylor University students seek out the true Dylan Thomas.

In his last few years, Dylan entertained hundreds of American students on his great but gruelling reading tours of America. He famously wrote a humorous piece on his experiences of the USA tours called  A Visit to America.

Due to his popularity and legacy, we at his Birthplace are too, becoming very used to hosting travelling American college and university groups.

One such group was the one which consisted of students and faculty members from Taylor University, Indiana, USA whom we had the pleasure of hosting recently.

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The group from the English department, are currently on an off campus study tour which combines reading of major British authors (Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginia Woolf, and others) and extensive sightseeing. Most of the trip is spent in London, with the class also travelling to other locations of literary significance. In this case they have chosen to look at Dylan Thomas and his Ugly, lovely town of Swansea.

The collection of culture vultures (as Dylan would term them) naturally acknowledged the importance of 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the house of his birth and where a near two-thirds of the writer’s incredible works were painstakingly crafted from the snug confines of his tiny bedroom.

We wish them well on their travels and urge them, do not go gentle when exploring the works of Wales’ most renowned writer but to dive in head first!

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…12th January 1935

An in depth review of Dylan’s 18 Poems appeared in the Herald of Wales newpaper. Reviewer, A. Spencer Vaughan-Thomas B.A. (Oxon) wrote…

‘No one can read his work without feeling that here is a poet magnificently equipped to achieve great things.’

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…11th January 1935

A highly complimentary review of Dylan’s first published book Eighteen Poems appeared in The Swansea Review section of the Swansea & West Wales Guardian newspaper.
This seems to be the first instance where the book was reviewed in a Welsh periodical.

The reviewer, “20th CENTURY” says of Dylan…

‘Modern poets fall into two categories, those who are the creatures of their age, and those who are it’s creators. In the latter group we find Auden, Spender and Dylan Thomas. It is a fault of both Auden and Spender, that having perfected their technique as poets, they strain themselves to become perfect media for propaganda. Dylan Thomas is too much the artist to allow politics to bemuse his muse. One knows instinctively his politics are correct, but they hover like a faint perfume above the lines of his poetry; they neither intrude or obtrude.’

He closes with…

‘Mr. Thomas is doing with poetry much the same as James Joyce did with prose. He is making a new language, not a Joyce did by making numerous languages to produce an illegitimate literary off-spring, but hammering new meaning into old worlds and phrases; crowning backs with the alchemy of his essentially poetic imagination.

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

 

On this date…9th January 1935

The Listener of the Gossip of the Day column of the South Wales Evening Post talks of a conversation they have had with author Richard Hughes about young Swansea poet Dylan Thomas.

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…9th January 1932

An article entitled The Poets of Swansea appeared in the Herald of Wales Swansea weekly newspaper. Author of the piece, 18 year old junior reporter Dylan Thomas examines the lives of the Swansea literati. The young man also writes poetry. He hopes to one day feature among this impressive list.

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…18th December 1934

Dylan Thomas’s first collection of poems 18 Poems was published. Seen here on Dylan’s desk is a ‘true’ first edition, first issue, first printing of his life changing book. It had finally come to fruition from many years of meticulous craft and hard work from the surroundings of his tiny bedroom and Father’s study and was about to set him on his course as one of the greatest poet’s of the twentieth century.

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Dylan however, would have to wait until January to read the first of a steady stream of encouraging reviews..

1934 had been a busy year for Dylan Thomas, his work being accepted and published in The New English Weekly,  Adelphi, New Verse, John O’London’s Weekly, New Stories, The Bookman, Criterion, and the BBC’s Listener. One of Dylan’s key admirers and regular publishers was ‘The Sunday Referee.’

How the ’18 Poems’ came to be….
The Sunday Referee had launched their ‘Poets Corner’ feature in April 1933 inviting contributions with the line of ‘We care nothing who holds the stylus’. A deluge of poems would flood into the Referee and tasked with selection was literary journalist Victor Neuberg. On September 3rd 1933 he selected Dylan’s That Sanity Be Kept and described it as ‘the best modernist poem as yet I have received.’ On October 29th 1933 he also published Dylan’s The Force That Through The Green Fuse and called it ‘cosmic in outlook….a large poem, greatly expressed. Dylan became a staple poet of the Referee in 1934 with a further five poems crafted by the young man from Swansea featuring in the publication.

As a result of the adulation of Dylan’s poetry from Neuberg and the editor Mark Goulden it was decided that the young poet from Swansea would have a collection sponsored by the newspaper. Dylan was to be the second in what the Sunday Referee envisioned to be a long line of prize poets. The first was a young lady from the London upper middle classes, Pamela Hansford Johnson. Dylan and Pamela had struck up a correspondence after his poem from 3rd September had been printed.

Publication of the book had been a drawn out affair with the Referee newspaper encountering difficulty finding a commercial publisher for it. Eventually David Archer of the Parton Bookshop, a young man with a love of poetry, who owned a bookshop and occasionally printed books agreed to help. Above all, David Archer had a desire to help young poets succeed. It was finally published on 18th December 1934. 500 copies of the book were produced with only 250 of them being bound at the time of publication. The cost of the book was 2s.6d. The book was published as a joint effort with The Sunday Referee periodical and the Parton Bookshop sharing the printing costs. The Referee provided £30 and the Parton Bookshop £20

*What happened to the other 250 unbound copies of the book? They were bound up and made available on February 21, 1936 and made up the second issue of the book*

18 Poems consists of…
I see the boys of summer
Where once the twilight locks
A process in the weather of the heart
Before I knocked
The force that through the green fuse
My hero bares his nerves
Where once the waters of your face
If I were tickled by the rub of love
Our eunuch dreams
Especially when the October wind
When, like a running grave
From love’s first fever
In the beginning
Light breaks where no sun shines
I fellowed sleep
I dreamed my genesis
My world is pyramid
All all and all

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!