New study of Dylan Thomas’s poetry by Swansea expert launched in Westminster

Professor John Goodby, an international authority on Dylan Thomas, has launched his newly-published study of Thomas’s poetry, at a reception in the Houses of Parliament to highlight plans to mark the centenary in 2014 of the poet’s birth.

300 x 443In his book, The Poetry of Dylan Thomas: Under the Spelling Wall, Professor Goodby, who works in the University’s Department of English Language and Literature, considers Thomas’s fate at the hands of the literary critics. He also reappraises Thomas's work in the light of contemporary critical theory, and offers a re-evaluation of his poetry for the 21st century.  

300 x 374The book was launched at a parliamentary reception attended by senior politicians from all parties, including:

  • Welsh Secretary David Jones
  • Culture Secretary Maria Miller
  • Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith
  • local MPs and councillors

‌Other guests from outside the world of politics included Dylan Thomas’s granddaughter Hannah Ellis, actor and comedian Griff Rhys Jones, and senior figures from the arts and other areas of public life in Wales.  

‌The reception was organised by Geraint Davies, MP for Swansea West, which includes the University’s Singleton campus and the area where Dylan Thomas was born and raised.

Picture:  Professor Goodby reading extracts at the Westminster reception, marking the start of the countdown to the poet's centenary in 2014.

Describing his research, Professor John Goodby said:

"The major discovery was that Dylan Thomas was a poet who is relevant to us in the 21st century, with his concern for embedded consciousness and the body, his sense of the way we perform our identities, his eco-awareness, his grasp of the way that language is usually used not to say things more than to say them."

"Seeing and handling Dylan Thomas’s original manuscripts was terrific. The scribblings and scrawlings and tortuous workings-out, the doodlings, the lists of words, made over many days and weeks, of various poems, was fascinating."

Swansea University is involved in a wide range of different activities relating to Dylan Thomas, in the lead-up to the centenary of his birth in October 2014. 

  • Principal sponsor of the Dylan Thomas Prize – this international prize, now in its seventh year, is open to any published author in the English language under the age of 30.  The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in Swansea in November.  Shortlisted writers will be working with school students and community groups in South Wales
  • Taking literature to the wider world - our poets, novelists, dramatists and critics will take their work to the wider world through literary festivals, including Hay, during 2014
  • Dylan Unchained – an international academic conference on Dylan Thomas at Swansea University in September 2014
  • New edition of Dylan Thomas’s poetry - publication of a new and authorised complete edition, edited by Professor John Goodby
  • Dylan Thomas in Chinese – the University and the City and County of Swansea are funding a visit by Chinese poet Wu Fu-Sheng, based in the USA, who will be working on the first substantial translation of Thomas’s poetry into Mandarin Chinese, with a publishing deal with Beijing already in place.

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400 x 287Picture:  Actor and comedian Griff Rhys Jones (centre) with Swansea West MP Geraint Davies (left) and Professor John Spurr of Swansea University's College of Arts and Humanities. 

400 x 253Professor John Spurr, Head of Swansea University's College of Arts and Humanities, said

"Staff and students at Swansea University look forward eagerly to the 2014 Dylan Thomas Centenary.  This will be our chance to share our world-leading research on Thomas and his peers and to welcome writers and visitors from around the world.  

Highlights include the 2014 Dylan Thomas Literary Prize, our Dylan Unchained conference, and Under Milk Wood - the Opera.  

So come and see what's going on at Swansea University in Dylan Thomas year!"


Further pictures from the Westminster event below.

 Top:  Hannah Ellis, granddaughter of Dylan Thomas, with Professor John Goodby (centre) and Professor John Spurr of the College of Arts and Humanities, Swansea University






Middle:  L-r Geraint Davies MP, Griff Rhys Jones, Professor John Spurr, Hannah Ellis, Professor Peter Stead (chair of the Dylan Thomas Prize) and Professor John Goodby


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Bottom:  L-r Steph Mastoris, director of the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, Rt Hon Peter Hain, MP for Neath, Prof Dai Smith, Swansea University, and David Phillips, leader, City and County of Swansea.