16 February 2011

Writers habits: Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas
When I was studying English I had to write an essay on ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.  It may not have been a great essay but I did become interested in Thomas and how he wrote. 

The Writing Shed

Years later I went to Laugharne in West Wales to see his ‘writing shed’ (pictured in the header to this blog) and the world he lived in.  Perched precariously on the cliff, with spectacular views of the River Taf and out to sea across Carmarthen Bay, the little wooden shed has been preserved and is visited by people from all over the world.

Carmarthen Council’s website notes that Dylan Thomas paid £75 to have his shed built on the cliff. It was originally intended as a garage for his car but quickly became Dylan’s ‘writing shed’, where he produced some of his best work. 

Writing routine

He settled into a routine of reading and writing letters in the mornings, doing the crossword and drinking in the nearby pub at lunchtime.  He would then work in his shed from two in the afternoon until seven in the evening.  Like Roald Dahl, he would read his work aloud, over and over, perfecting the alliteration and hearing the rhymes. 

The hut had a simple stove for heating in the winter and Dylan covered the walls with photographs and magazine cuttings of his favourite poets, Byron, Whitman, Auden and William Blake.

There is an ongoing debate about how much of Under Milk Wood was written in his hut, as it describes a nearby harbour at New Quay.  Shy and often insecure, Dylan Thomas struggled to cope with fame but would have been happy to know he has left his mark on the world as a poet.

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