Dylan Thomas notebooks to return to Wales for the first time
Rare notebooks and manuscripts belonging to Dylan Thomas have now arrived at the National Library of Wales from the United States.
Personally escorted by a courier from the National Library of Wales at all times during their epic journey across the Atlantic, the notebooks and manuscripts are now safely housed at the Library in preparation for the exhibition that will form part of a landmark commemoration of the birth of Thomas in his native country.
The loan includes four poetry notebooks written between 1930 and 1934, and the ‘Red Prose Notebook’ that also dates from this time. A list of rhyming words, a self-portrait Dylan doodled on a letter to Pamela Hansford Johnson and a crossword on the back of a carbon copy of ‘Fern Hill’ made up by Dylan, shed light on his writing process and also his playful side.
The items are also accompanied by a series of black and white photographs of Dylan Thomas, many of which have not been widely displayed or reproduced. Some date from the late 1930s when he was newly married, while the second set were taken in New York in the early 50s.
Chief Executive and Librarian at the National Library of Wales, Aled Gruffydd Jones said:
“We are thrilled that we have been able to welcome these items back to Wales for the centenary celebrations. The Library is proud to be the major repository and research centre for Dylan Thomas material, and this loan is the final piece of the jigsaw in giving visitors an insight into Dylan’s early life and writing processes. The Library is extremely grateful to The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York for lending these items as part of the centenary celebrations.”
“It gives us an international reputation,” said Michael Basinski, curator of the Poetry Collection at the University of Buffalo.
“This collection draws scholars and fans from around the world who drive hundreds of miles to stand in the presence of this material. Dylan has this kind of aura.”
Fans of the poet will not have to travel so far now to see these iconic items as they shared between two exhibitions at The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth (28th June) and the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea (31st May).
Cllr Nick Bradley, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said:
“It’s excellent news that we’re able to work in such close partnership with The National Library of Wales to bring artefacts of such historic and cultural value back to Wales and, of course, to Swansea, Dylan’s birthplace”.
(28 June – 20 December 2014)
As part of DylanThomas100, the year-long celebration of the birth of Dylan Thomas, the Library is staging a major multi-media exhibition in conjunction with a series of newly commissioned showcase events.
The exhibition will run across several of the Library’s gallery spaces and will provide a unique opportunity to celebrate the life and work of this iconic Welsh literary figure. Visitors will experience an extraordinary insight into Dylan's world of poetry, stories, plays and extensive musings, guided by Dylan himself. This multimedia exhibition will include never before exhibited manuscripts from the Library’s collection, as well as never before seen items on loan from the United States, and interactive experiences for all ages.
Located in Aberystwyth, The National Library of Wales serves as the collective long-term memory for Wales, and its collections are vast and varied and free to access. With thousands of Dylan Thomas related materials in the collection, the Library is a key venue for Dylan Thomas enthusiasts and researchers, and is also an entry point for people to learn about his work and life.
Throughout the year, partnerships with the dancer Eddie Ladd; theatre company Arad Goch; poets Damian Walford Davies and Rhian Edwards and visual artists Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts, will give a fresh perspective on Dylan’s life, prose and poetry. Dylan Thomas will also feature on the Library’s exhibition stand at this year’s Eisteddfod in Carmarthenshire.
A public symposium (5-6 December 2014) will be the finale to the centenary activities, and will include a showing of Andrew Sinclair’s 1972 film adaptation of Under Milk Wood and an interview between the Director and Damian Walford Davies.
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