THOMAS (DYLAN) Books from the family library at Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, INSCRIBED, 1920-1927 (3)
Lot 219
Books from the family library at Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, INSCRIBED, 1920-1927 (3)
Sold for £4,750 (US$ 7,983) inc. premium
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Other Properties
Books from the family library at Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, comprising his own copy of The 60 Best Humorous Recitations, [edited by S.C. Jonson], inscribed on the flyleaf "Dylan Marlais/ Thomas/ 1927"; his sister's copy of Modern Poetry, edited by Guy N. Pocock, inscribed on the inside cover "Nancy Marles Thomas/ Xmas 1920", and with a W.B. Yeats poem transcribed by Thomas at the end; his father's copy of An Eighteenth Century Miscellany, edited by A.E.M. Bayliss, inscribed on the flyleaf "D.J. Thomas"; the volume of Modern Poetry with the bookseller's ticket of D. Williams, the South Wales Book Depot, Carmarthen, publisher's green cloth, lower cover of Modern Poetry working loose, other usual signs of use, but overall in good sound condition, 8vo, 1920-1927 (3)


  • DYLAN THOMAS PREPARES FOR HIS LIFE AS A POET: three volumes marking Dylan Thomas's early life in Swansea – he was to begin copying out the extant corpus of his early poetry, which was eventually to fill four exercise books, in 1930: half of the ninety published poems by which he is known belonging to these Swansea years. The first of our volumes was acquired when Thomas was twelve or thirteen and a pupil at the Swansea Grammar School, where his father taught English.

    The copy of Modern Poetry, acquired by his fourteen-year old sister Nancy in 1920, he later clearly made his own, transcribing into a blank page at the end W.B. Yeats's poem 'A Dream of Death' (first version), opening 'I dreamed that one had died in a strange place/ Near no accustomed land...'. This he has subscribed "W.B. Yeats". On the facing page he has contributed his own cod-poem headed "To A Distant Candle" which consists of a blank space followed by his signature "Dylan Marlais" (at the very end of the volume he has written again in pencil "Dylan Marlais"). From the thumb and finger-prints in the margins, the book has clearly been well-read, especially poems like Kipling's 'The Way Through the Woods', Yeats's 'Inisfree', Brooke's 'The Fish', Hardy's 'Men Who March Away' and Nichols's 'Assault'. Three poems have been marked by a question-mark in the index, namely Gould's 'Wander-Thirst', Graves's 'The Dead Fox Hunter' and Gould's 'Fallen Cities'; while Whitman's 'Animals' has something approximating to a tick against it. Thomas's copy of The 60 Best Humorous Recitations shows less signs of use, and was perhaps read through once. His father's Eighteenth Century Miscellany is more pristine and may not of course have fallen into Dylan's hands at all. Nevertheless it constitutes a most appropriate memento of the man whose model was, as his son's ODNB entry puts it, the English man of letters (and this despite the fact that, unlike his son, he was a native Welsh-speaker and gave his son the name 'Marlais' in honour of his uncle William, a preacher-poet in the Welsh language who took his bardic name, Gwilym Marles, from the local River Marlais).

    These volumes were given to the present owner's father by an acquaintance, a sculptor, who had been a contemporary of Dylan's at Swansea Grammar School in the 1920s and 30s, and who with his wife, a painter, hosted a party attended by him before his final departure for America.
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  1. Simon Roberts
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