A New LifeBook - 2003
Dylan Thomas was a sensation, both as a person and as a poet. His writing ¿ short stories as well as verse ¿ was hugely popular. He broadcast widely on the old BBC Third Programmes. Given to drink and womanising, his life was very public and in the more staid 1940s caused a continuing stir. In 1953, after completing the work for which he is best remembered, UNDER MILK WOOD, he left London for a US reading tour, where he had been ¿discovered¿ two years before. But he was still drinking heavily and in November 9, 1953 he died suddenly in New York. He was only 39.
Lycett's new life supercedes the previous biographies by Constantine Fitzgibbon, Paul Ferris and Andrew Sinclair. Since these were published Thomas's wife, Caitlin, and his son Llewelyn, have died. Lycett has secured the backing of the Dylan Thomas trustees and of Thomas¿s daughter Aeronwy.
The 50th anniversary is an ideal moment to reassess Dylan Thomas¿s genius as a writer and his short but tragic life. This biography provides a focus for a programme of Dylan Thomas reissues (Orion control his books) and Dylan Thomas celebrations.
Lycett's detective work has uncovered much new material about Thomas's rackety private life, including a procession of mistresses in America gained during his four visits there in the last two years of his life. He has also uncovered correspondence between Dylan Thomas and his publishers that throws interesting light on Thomas's attitude to his work and where he saw it progressing, both in verse and prose. The story is powerful, being an inevitable tragedy as drink takes increasing hold.