18.6.11

Dylan Thomas and his Father

The influence of Thomas' father on his life and work
Dylan Thomas. Photograph: Corbis.
Stefany Anne Golberg on Dylan Thomas and his father:
David John Thomas liked to drink alone. Author Paul Ferris illustrated the point in his biography Dylan Thomas with a portrait of David John alone in a corner table at his local Welsh pub, the Bush. He describes David John Thomas as “a clever, disappointed man”. A young colleague, wrote Ferris, remembered once buying a pint for D.J. (as he was called), who accepted, and then chose to drink it in silence, at his table, alone. Pub regulars called the sulking presence who often spent his evenings there “The Professor.”

As a boy, D.J. was a promising student. He had received a scholarship to study English at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth where he graduated with first-class honors. Like many promising students of English, D.J. had dreams of being a poet. Instead, he became a grammar school teacher. He watched in anger and shame as colleagues of clearly inferior worth gained appointments to higher university positions while he remained where he was. D.J. was often ill, and wondered why he had no visitors. He cultivated a devastating schoolmaster’s sarcasm that shielded his fragile pride. Students of Schoolmaster Thomas remember an unforgiving tyrant who cursed stupid boys and dirty boys. But he made Shakespeare come alive and became known for getting his boys into Oxford and Cambridge. D.J.’s great passion for English literature was available for any boy willing to receive it. To his son Dylan, however, the clever, disappointed father gave his entire dream of a poet’s life. [Read More]

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