Dylan’s Life – 1950s to Dylan’s death

1950

January: Twenty-five Poems published by J M Dent & Sons Ltd in a limited signed edition of 150 copies

“When we were strangers to the guided seas,
A handmade moon half holy in a cloud,
The wisemen tell me that the garden gods
Twined good and evil on an eastern tree”
Incarnate devil

February 20: Dylan flies to New York to begin his first tour of the United States organised by John Malcolm Brinnin

February 23: Dylan’s first reading, at the Kaufmann Auditorium, New York

June 1: Dylan returns to Britain on board the Queen Elizabeth having given at least 39 readings and lectures all over the USA and Canada

September: Margaret Taylor goes down to Laugharne to tell Caitlin that Dylan has an American mistress, Pearl Kazin, and that she has arrived in London. This provokes the first great crisis in their marriage

1951

January / February: Dylan visits Persia to write a film script for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; Caitlin writes to him suggesting that the marriage is over

February: Dylan and Caitlin are reconciled

July: John Malcolm Brinnin, Dylan’s American agent, and the photographer Rollie McKenna stay with Dylan and Caitlin in Laugharne and discuss the possibility of another American trip.

Summer / Autumn: Dylan writes ‘Lament’, ‘Poem on His Birthday’, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’, ‘Prologue’ and half of Under Milk Wood in Laugharne.

“Now I am a man no more no more
And a black reward for a roaring life
(Sighed the old ram rod, dying of strangers)’
Lament

Margaret Taylor acquires 54 Delancey Street, Camden Town, so that the Thomases will have a London home as well as their home in Laugharne.

1952

January 20: Dylan and Caitlin depart for the United States on board the Queen Mary (this second US tour lasts until 16 May)

February 22: Dylan records his first selection of poems for Caedmon Records

February 28: ‘In Country Sleep’ published in the United States in a limited signed edition of 100 copies followed by a trade edition

“And you shall wake, from country sleep, this dawn and each first dawn,
Your faith as deathless as the outcry of the ruled sun.”
In Country Sleep

November 10: Collected Poems 1934-1952 published in Britain by J M Dent & Sons Ltd. Limited signed edition of 65 copies and also trade edition

“Under the mile off moon we trembled listening
To the sea sound flowing like blood from the loud wound
And when the salt sheet broke in a storm of singing
The voices of all the drowned swam on the wind.”
Lie still, sleep becalmed

December 16: D J Thomas dies in Laugharne aged 76. He is buried in Pontypridd alongside his brother Arthur after a non-religious ceremony

March 31: Collected Poems published in the United States by New Directions

“Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Do not go gentle into that good night

April 16: Dylan’s sister Nancy dies of cancer in Bombay

April 21: Dylan leaves for New York to begin his third American tour, and during this tour begins his affair with Liz Reitell

May 14: The Doctor and the Devils – the first of the film scripts – is published by J M Dent & Sons Ltd.

May 14: First stage performance of Under Milk Wood in New York with Dylan narrating (recorded by Caedmon)

” ‘I’m Jonah Jarvis, come to a bad end, very enjoyable …”
Under Milk Wood

June 2: Dylan records again for Caedmon

June 3: Dylan returns to London

August 10: Dylan makes his first and only TV appearance for the BBC reading his story ‘The Outing’. Footage of this has never been recovered.

“The charabanc pulled up outside the Mountain Sheep …. landlord stood at the door to welcome us, simpering like a wolf.”
‘A Story’ – aka ‘The Outing’

October 19: Dylan leaves for New York to begin his fourth and final American tour

October 29: Dylan’s last public engagement – a lunchtime reading at the City College of New York

November 5: Dylan collapses at the Chelsea Hotel, New York

November 9: Dylan dies at St Vincent’s Hospital and Caitlin brings his body back to Laugharne

“And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace”
Fern Hill

25 November: Dylan’s funeral at Laugharne. A few weeks after the funeral Caitlin leaves Laugharne for Elba, Italy.

25 January 1954: First BBC Broadcast of Under Milk Wood, with Richard Burton starring as First Voice

May 1954: First publication of Under Milk Wood in book form: 13,000 copies were sold in the first month and over 53,000 in the first year

May 1957: Caitlin’s first memoir, Leftover Life to Kill, published

October 1957: Caitlin meets an attractive Scillian eleven years her junior, Giuseppe Fazio, who works in the Italian film industry. They settle in Catania

August 1958: Dylan’s mother, Florence, dies in Laugharne

March 1963: at the age of 49, Caitlin gives birth to her fourth child, Francesco Fazio

1982: Plaque to Dylan unveiled in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey

1994: Caitlin dies and is buried in Laugharne with Dylan.

1995: Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea, opens

1997: Double Drink Story, Caitlin’s reworked memoirs, published posthumously

1998: First Dylan Thomas Celebration, Swansea.

2000: Death of Dylan’s eldest son Llewelyn

This post is also available in: Welsh

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