Dylan Thomas’s stellar literary reputation rests on about a dozen truly fine poems and one unforgettable radio play, Under Milk Wood.
In this trenchant biography, Jonathan Fryer argues that Thomas’s prose work was often better than his poetry. But both belied the true nature of the man who wrote them: a selfish, exploitative, self-pitying barfly who wooed women on both sides of the Atlantic with his mellifluous voice, only to leave a trail of devastation in his wake.
A professional Welshman in London, Thomas was completely anglicised in Wales, but that contradiction was only one of many in a complex personality that both fascinated and repelled as it headed full-speed down the road to self-destruction.
He met his match in the wild Irish hedonist Caitlin Macnamara; during their tempestuous marriage they were the soul of the party, but also the guests the others were most relieved to see depart.
“Mr Fryer is immensely readable, writing with flair.”
“As Jonathan Fryer illustrates in his robust and sensible biography, the combination of dishonesty and ingratitude repeatedly manifested itself throughout the poet’s life.”
“Few will quarrel with Fryer’s conclusion: ‘Though Dylan ought to be primarily remembered for his poetry, his most powerful and oddest legacy is his legend.’”