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Thousands of Dylan Thomas items feature in new online digital archive

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A digital collection of manuscripts, notebooks and photographs relating to the Welsh writer Dylan Thomas is now available free online, thanks to an international collaboration.

Supported by the Dylan Thomas Trust, the landmark project is a collaboration between Swansea University and the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas, which holds the largest collection in the world of transcripts and letters by the Swansea-born poet and dramatist.

The Dylan Thomas Digital Collection features more than 6,000 digitised images, including: manuscripts, correspondence, notebooks, drawings, photographs and more, enabling people across the globe to study his literary works and gain an insight into his creative process.

The Collection includes the handwritten manuscript of one of Thomas’ most famous poems, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, first published in 1951.

Materials related to the radio play Under Milk Wood are also contained in the archive, including extensive notes, workings, outlines, and an incomplete early draft, along with a revised manuscript.

Statue of Dylan Thomas, by John Doubleday, 1984, in Dylan Thomas Square, Maritime Quarter, Swansea (Image: Wikimedia)

Born on October 27, 1914 in Uplands, Swansea, Dylan Marlais Thomas died on November 9, 1953 in New York City. Though his life was short, he completed a wealth of work known for its comic exuberance, rhapsodic lilt, and pathos, and is widely considered one of the greatest twentieth-century poets writing in English.

“This initiative promises to deepen our understanding of Dylan Thomas’ creative process and lead to new insights into his poetry and other writings,” said Stephen Enniss, Betty Brumbalow Director of the Harry Ransom Center. “We are grateful for this collaboration with Swansea University and grateful, too, to the Dylan Thomas Trust which has made it possible for us to share the collection with his readers everywhere.”

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Swansea University’s Richard Burton Archives holds the ‘lost’ fifth notebook and rare proof copies of several of Thomas’s works. Its annual Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize, one of the most prestigious international awards for young writers, is awarded to the best published literary work in the English language written by an author aged 39 or under.

Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University, said: “We are delighted to be part of this initiative alongside The University of Texas, which embodies the extensive benefits of international collaboration between universities. We hope to inspire readers, new and experienced alike, as we seek to make the world’s largest Dylan Thomas collection widely accessible to people around the globe. We extend our special thanks to the Dylan Thomas Trust for their continued support of this important project.”

The launch of the digital archive coincides with International Dylan Thomas Day on 14 May, sponsored by the Dylan Thomas Trust.

Explore the Dylan Thomas Digital Collection.

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Lead image: A handwritten manuscript of Dylan Thomas’ well-known poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night features in the digital collection. (Image: Swansea University / The Dylan Thomas Trust)


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