Hw was known as a bon viveur, ladies’ man, poet, playwright, broadcaster and author. But now a new side of Dylan Thomas is to go on show with the unveiling of never-seen- before sketches in his home city of Swansea.
The series of sketches was drawn by Thomas and artist Dodie Masterman during his famous North American lecture tour of 1950.
The artist first met Thomas when she was evacuated to Swansea during World War II but it was only after a chance reunion in Washington several years later that she sketched the poet. And he joined in by doing his own self portraits.
The sketchbook features more than 30 drawings by Thomas and Masterman, as well as sketches the two worked on together.
Some of Masterman’s sketches show Thomas reading a book and others include his doodles by the side of her drawings. Masterman’s sketchbook lay undiscovered for more than half a century until they were found by her son after she died last December, aged 91.
Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre has now been given permission to put the sketchbook on display during this year’s Dylan Thomas Festival and beyond.
The collection, which will be unveiled today, also includes an audio recording of Masterman recalling her meetings with Thomas.
The poet undertook four lecture tours of the US in the early 1950s and visited more than 60 institutions.
Thomas died in New York in 1953, aged 39, following a heavy drinking session, though the exact cause of his death is still a matter for debate.
Masterman is most famous for her illustrations of the Peter and Jane children’s books in the 1950s. She also taught drawing at the Camberwell School of Art in London for more than 20 years.
Jo Furber, Swansea Council’s Literature Officer and Curator of the Dylan Thomas Centre’s exhibition, said: “We’re very excited that these wonderful drawings are on display for the first time and that thousands of visitors to the Dylan Thomas Centre will have the opportunity to see them in the coming months.
“They provide a fascinating insight into another aspect of Dylan’s creativity and his relationship with other artists. “Dodie’s drawings capture Dylan perfectly and we’re grateful to the Masterman family for loaning them to us.”
Thomas is little known for his artwork though the Dylan Thomas Centre already has a few of Thomas’ drawings in its collection as well as his only known watercolour painting.
Graham Thomas, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said: “Dylan Thomas is Swansea’s most famous son and the enduring popularity of the poet is testament to the quality of his writing and his timeless appeal.
“The sketchbook and the audio recording will open up a chapter of history that’s never been told and it’s very fitting that they should
be unveiled to the world in Dylan’s home city.
“The Dylan Thomas Festival is a wonderful annual occasion but these discoveries will further raise its profile across the UK and the rest of the world.”
The Dylan Thomas Festival lasts from Wednesday, October 27, to Tuesday, November 9.
This year’s festival also includes the first full Swansea performance of a new one-man play about David Lloyd George, a reading by former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion and a discussion with Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain on his new biography of Nelson Mandela.