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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Daughter is Dylan's biggest fan
Aeronwy Thomas
Aeronwy Thomas: She finds returning to New Quay therapeutic
Dylan Thomas' daughter is an ardent admirer of her father's work even though she was unaware of it until she was in her mid-twenties.

Aeronwy Thomas was 10 years old when her father died in New York on 9 November 1953 and grew up in Rome and Sicily before working as an English-language journalist and publicist in Italy.

She spent her formative years shielded from her father's reputation as one of the great poets of the 20th century and the legends surrounding his alcohol-fuelled behaviour.

On Tuesday, she was in New Quay to officially open a trail dedicated to her father's connections with Ceredigion.

At the time I was a prude and I disliked the development of this legend of him being a no good boyo
Aeronwy Thomas

"I had a limited relationship with my father because he died when I was very young," said Mrs Thomas.

"I didn't discover his work until I was well into my twenties.

Therapeutic

"At the time I was a prude and I disliked the development of this legend of him being a no good boyo.

"But once I started reading his work I became an ardent admirer and I soon realised that his writing could bring him back to me.

"His writing is packed with places and people from my childhood so I suppose I find it very therapeutic when I come back to New Quay and Laugharne."

Mrs Thomas' attitude differs markedly from her two brothers, Llewellyn (who died of lung cancer two years ago), and Colm, who lives in Italy.

Aeronwy Thomas
The Thomas family lived in New Quay in 1944

"My brothers chose to live as far away as possible from Wales but this wasn't the way I wanted to deal with it. I love Wales," she said.

It is the admiration of her father's work that has led Mrs Thomas to support and attend events linked to the poet and writer.

"If I wasn't a fan of his then I wouldn't be able to come to events such as this one in New Quay," she said.

"Not only does it enable me to promote my father's work but also helps areas such as Ceredigion attract more tourists to the area."

Mrs Thomas is a petite woman of 60 and speaks with warmth and affection of her father throughout the interview.

She lives in London with her Welsh husband Trevor. The couple have two children.

I used to be left outside The Black Lion to sleep in the pram or placed upstairs in the landlady's bed
Aeronwy Thomas

The only flash of anger that betrays her Celtic background is when she talks of people who criticise her father.

"Most of the people who criticise my father for his lifestyle are those who have never read any of his works," she said.

Although born in London - during an air raid in 1943 - Mrs Thomas moved with her family to Majoda, a small bungalow on the outskirts of New Quay in 1944.

The time spent in the sleepy seaside town is now recognised as being one of the most productive periods of Dylan Thomas' life.

"At the time my father was writing scripts for the Ministry of Information and persuaded his bosses he could write better in New Quay," said Mrs Thomas.

Black Lion Hotel
Aeronwy used to be left outside the pub in her pram

"My memories of this period are non-existent because I was a baby but my parents used to take me with them to the Black Lion Hotel in the evenings.

"I used to be left outside The Black Lion to sleep in the pram or placed upstairs in the landlady's bed."

During this period, Thomas wrote 11 poems as well as 'Quite Early One Morning'.

"He couldn't write with the noise of children in the background so he used to go and do his work in some out-houses," said Mrs Thomas.

It was during this time that the idea for 'Under Milk Wood' was beginning to germinate in Dylan Thomas' mind.

"New Quay was an enormous influence on the creation of Under Milk Wood because the description of the drowned sailors, submerged village and other images could only come from here," said Mrs Thomas.

Dylan Thomas
New Quay was a huge influence on Under Milk Wood

"Nevertheless the characters are universal and are drawn from Swansea, Ferryside and Laugharne as well as New Quay."

Mrs Thomas has herself written two volumes of poetry but her efforts to publish her recollections of her childhood have met with a tepid response from publishers.

"Publishers want my recollections to be more revelatory but my childhood memories have more to do with the lady who used to do for us than my father," she said.

But she revealed she has been asked to write about the effect her father's life, death, and legend had affected her own life.

On Tuesday 15 July Mrs Thomas will be awarded an University of Wales Fellowship for her work in promoting her father and the city of his birth, Swansea.




SEE ALSO:
Dylan's daughter opens trail
08 Jul 03  |  Mid
City launches Dylan tours
17 Jun 03  |  South West Wales
'Dylan's pub' could fetch 1m
21 May 03  |  South West Wales
Delay for Dylan film
16 May 03  |  South West Wales
County creams Milk Wood link
22 Apr 03  |  Mid


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