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Dylan Thomas


5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea: the birthplace of Dylan ThomasDylan Thomas was born in the coastal town of Swansea, Wales. His father David, who was a writer and possessed a degree in English, brought his son up to speak English rather than Thomas's mother's native Welsh. His middle name, "Marlais", came from the bardic name of his uncle, the Unitarian minister, Gwilym Marles (whose real name was William Thomas).

Thomas attended the boys-only Swansea Grammar School, (now known as Bishop Gore School), at which his father taught English Literature. It was in the school's magazine that the young Dylan saw his first poem published. He left school at age 16 to become a reporter for a year and a half.

Thomas's childhood was spent largely in Swansea, with regular summer trips to visit his mother's family on their Carmarthen farm. These rural sojourns, and their contrast with the town life of Swansea, would inform much of his work, notably many short stories and radio essays and the poem "Fern Hill".

Thomas wrote half his poems and many short stories when he lived at the family home at 5 Cwmdonkin Driveó"And death shall have no dominion" is one of the best known works written at this address. By the time his first poetry volume, 18 Poems, was published in November 1934, he was one of the most exciting young poets writing in the English language.

In 1937, Thomas married Caitlin Macnamara (1913-1994), and would have three children with her, throughout the relationship, littered with affairs. January of 1939 saw the birth of their first child, a boy whom they named Llewelyn (died in 2000). He was followed in March of 1943 by a daughter, Aeronwy. A second son and third child, Colm Garan, was born in July, 1949.

He collapsed on November 4, 1953 at the White Horse Tavern after drinking heavily while in New York City on a promotional tour; Thomas later died at St. Vincent's hospital, aged 39. The primary cause of his death is recorded as pneumonia, with pressure on the brain and a fatty liver given as contributing factors. His penultimate words were: "I've had 18 straight whiskeys, I think this is a record." His final words were to Liz Reitell, to whom he said "I love you, but I am alone". Following his death, his body was brought back to Wales for burial in the village churchyard.