Dylan Marlais Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "And death shall have no dominion", the "Play for Voices", Under Milk Wood, and stories and radio broadcasts such as A Child's Christmas in Wales and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. He became popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature death in New York City. In his later life he acquired a reputation, which he encouraged, as a "roistering, drunken and doomed poet".
Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales, in 1914. An undistinguished pupil, he left school at 16, becoming a journalist for a short time. Although many of his works appeared in print while he was still a teenager, it was the publication of "Light breaks where no sun shines", in 1934, that caught the attention of the literary world. While living in London, Thomas met Caitlin Macnamara, whom he married in 1937. Their relationship was defined by alcoholism and was mutually destructive. In the early part of his marriage, Thomas and his family lived hand-to-mouth, settling in the Welsh fishing village of Laugharne.
Although Thomas was appreciated as a popular poet in his lifetime, he found earning a living as a writer difficult, which resulted in his augmenting his income with reading tours and broadcasts. His radio recordings for the BBC during the late 1940s brought him to the public's attention and he was used by the Corporation as a populist voice of the literary scene. In the 1950s, Thomas travelled to America, where his readings brought him a level of fame, and his erratic behaviour and drinking worsened. His time in America cemented Thomas's legend, and he recorded to vinyl works such as A Child's Christmas in Wales. During his fourth trip to New York in 1953, Thomas became gravely ill and fell into a coma from which he did not recover. Thomas died on 9 November 1953 and his body was returned to Wales where he was buried at the village churchyard in Laugharne on 25 November 1953.
Thomas wrote exclusively in the English language. He has been acknowledged as one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century and noted for his original, rhythmic and ingenious use of words and imagery. Thomas's position as one of the great modern poets has been much discussed. He remains popular with the public, who find his work accessible.