Troubled genius Dylan Thomas’ links to London celebrated in his centenary month

This month marks the centenary of legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, on October 27, he would have turned 100.

He is best known for his poems ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ and ‘Death Shall Have No Dominion’ as well as his raconteur lifestyle.

Born in Swansea, Thomas pursued his fortunes in London by moving to Fulham’s 5 Redcliffe Road in 1934.

The Thomas name is linked to South West London through at least three generations, as his aunt before him and his middle daughter after lived in neighbouring boroughs.

Though widely recognized as a genius, Thomas’s darker side led to him developing an alcohol problem and succumbing to the pull of the metropolis’ nightlife.

One of his favourite pubs during his stay in Fulham was The Pheasantry in Chelsea, where people can still enjoy a pint to this day.

In a letter from 1934 Thomas expressed his sentiments about London: “When I do come to town, bang go my plans in a horrid alcoholic explosion that scatters all my good intentions like bits of limbs and clothes over the doorsteps and into the saloon bars of the tawdriest pubs in London.”

It is telling that Thomas met his future wife, blue-eyed dancer Caitlin Macnamara, at a pub in West London. Their turbulent relationship produced three children, Llewelyn, Aeronwy and Colm.

Aeronwy, who passed in 2009, chose to follow her father’s footsteps in becoming a poet and spending part of her life in South West London where she was an active member of the Merton Poetry Group.

Friend and Merton Poetry Group founder Russell Thompson describes her as less outgoing than her father and said: “She hadn’t had an easy childhood.

“She had to grow up quickly to look after her wild mother. It was one of those mother-daughter things where were the daughter has to become the mother.”

As Dylan Thomas’s fame rose, his health steadily declined until his death on November 9, 1953 in New York.

Picture courtesy of Reena Mahtani, with thanks

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