Writing Shed

This was the garage for the Boathouse, built by Doctor Cowan c. 1916. It housed Laugharne's first car, a green Wolseley. One woman thought it the devil in mechanical form, and chased after it brandishing a pitchfork. Because it needed stilts it cost £80; average wages were £200 p.a. Dylan Thomas commandeered the shed promising his benefactor, 'All I write in this water and tree room on the cliff... will be thanks to you.' The hut affords spectacular views of Sir John's Hill, the Llansteffan peninsula (his mother's homeland), the sands of Cefn Sidan, Ginst Point and Gower beyond where he urged his childhood comrades to, '...build a bloody house and live like bloody kings!' Dylan wrote several poems including 'Prologue', 'Over Sir John's Hill' and 'Poem In October' in his 'word-splashed' hut.

Dylan liked routine: mornings with the family; lunchtimes in Brown's garnering material for Under Milk Wood; afternoons in the shed from 2pm 'til 7pm and if facing imminent deadlines, wife Caitlin would lock the door. Aeronwy, his daughter, remembers her father used to, '...write out loud,' (he's best read out loud too). Caitlin provided inspiring magazine clippings for the walls and pulp fiction lined the bookcase. Too rotten to preserve during the 1996 refurb, the original front panel - which had no window - resides in the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. After he left for the USA in October 1953 Gwen Jones of Gwalia House remembered finding dozens of tiny scraps of paper outside the shed in Dylan's distinctive hand-writing. Despite her best efforts, the contents could not be recovered.

The Writing Shed - Then



The Writing Shed - Now


Under Milk Wood

Dylan told writer Richard Hughes, 'What Laugharne needs is a play about itself, where people act themselves,' and Under Milk Wood fulfilled his lifelong ambition to dramatise a Welsh seaside town. Dylan's map of 'Llareggub' looks like Newquay, 40 miles to the north, where he lived in 1944 and Mr Pritchard of 'Ogmore-Pritchard' was a Newquay bank manager, but Laugharne is 'Llareggub'. He completed the script minutes before curtain-up in May 1953 but cool New Yorkers hung on every word and it was a huge success. The BBC produced a posthumous version in Jan 1954 with Richard Burton momentous as First Voice. It's been a jazz suite, a ballet, a film, and self-styled 'Youtube Phenomenon' David Garland Jones even had a viral hit performing it as a mime - 'They said it was a play for voices...'

Jon Tregenna, author of Under Milk Wood 'update', Buggerall, was educated during the 1970s at Llanelli Boys Grammar School - 'I remember listening to my father's LPs wondering why John Donne and Chaucer were taught instead of Dylan Thomas.' The play appalled repressed Welsh society (still reeling from Caradoc Evans' scabrous My People of 1915) who were unable to see beyond the bawdiness, drinking and innuendo. After his death, Dylan's manuscripts were snapped up by American universities but devotees started pitching up in Wales, and Swansea's Dylan Thomas Centre and Birthplace opened in 1995 and 2008 respectively. We don't have his papers but we have his places and Laugharne was his favourite, '...this black magical bedlam by the sea... there is nowhere like it anywhere at all'.

LP cover for the 1954 BBC recording


Poster for the 1972 film


Under Milk Wood

 

What is the origin of the title,
'Under Milk Wood'?

Here's our theory.


 

 

'Prologue'

by

Dylan Thomas


 

 

'Over Sir John's Hill'

by

Dylan Thomas


 

 

'Poem In October'

by

Dylan Thomas


 

 

Dylan Thomas

reading from

'Under Milk Wood'

 

14 May 1953

New York City


 

 

David Garland Jones

performing extracts from

'Under Milk Wood'

in mime

 

Treorchy Rugby Club



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