Literature lovers will know that 2014 marks 100 years since the birth of the Welsh writer Dylan Thomas, meaning there has been no better time to explore the land of his fathers. Controversial in his time, the reputation of the poet and playwright has outlived him, but his character makes looking into his life all the more interesting.
Wales has long been proud of Thomas, with exhibitions all year round, but this year there will be more events and performances dedicated to him than ever before. Be sure to visit Wales in 2014 to be part of it.
The Dylan Thomas Centre
An obvious place to start for those new to the writer’s works or anyone wishing to explore his life further is the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. Ever since it was opened to the public in 1995 it has been the centre of all things relating to the man.
The permanent exhibition space is full of artefacts and information covering Thomas’ brief life between 1914 and 1953. It includes the suit he travelled in to New York, where his life ended, and recorded interviews of the man himself.
Many of the events scheduled for 2014 will take place here and there is a packed itinerary, so check what will be on prior to your visit. Each year the centre holds the Dylan Thomas Festival, which begins on October 27th, as this is his birthday, and ends on November 9th.
To begin at the beginning, as it states in Under Milk Wood, visitors must head to number five Cwmdonkin Drive, as this is where Thomas was born. Extensive restorations of the property have returned it to how it would have looked in 1914 at the time of his birth.
Fans of the writer can opt for a guided tour or even spend an evening eating a meal at the family’s dining table. For the most die-hard aficionados there is even the opportunity to stay the night.
The Maritime Quarter
While in Swansea it is worth taking a wander down to the sea in search of a familiar character. The statue of Captain Cat honours one of Thomas’ most famous works, Under Milk Wood. The hilarious radio play has stood the test of time and is being performed on the stage in various locations as part of the anniversary celebrations.
Another statue can be found in the town and this is of the man who so evocatively brought Captain Cat to life. Head to the square that bears his name and you too can sit on the knee of Dylan Thomas, which has become shiny where visitors have posed for photographs before.
The Boathouse in Laugharne was Thomas’ home for the last four years of his life and occupies a stunning position by the sea. It is easy to see why the attached writing shed provided him with plenty of inspiration, overlooking four estuaries as it does. Over Sir John’s Hill was the first poem he wrote in the spot and by no means the last.
Today you can watch a 24-minute film about Thomas in the upstairs exhibition area, as well as peruse many of the writer’s personal belongings. The Boathouse is a short ten-minute walk from the centre of Laugharne and be sure to note the shed as you walk past it along the route.