Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2004 17:34 UK

Dylan love letter to be auctioned

The first love letter written by Dylan Thomas to his wife Caitlin is to be auctioned in New York next week.

A signed manuscript of one of his best known poems - Fern Hill - is also among the eight lots linked with the poet which are expected to fetch up to £50,000 at Sotheby's.

Experts believe the price could scare off bidders from Wales.

The couple who lived in Swansea and Carmarthenshire were married for 16 years before his early death in 1953.

It's one thing to read them in a volume of collected letters - it's quite another thing to actually hold the page and see the squiggles
Dr James Davies

The letter was written in October 1936 shortly after he was introduced to Caitlin and while she was in hospital.

He wrote: "I don't want you for a day (though I'd sell my toes to see you now my dear, only for a minute, to kiss you once and make a funny face at you): a day is the length of a gnat's life: I want you for the lifetime of a big, mad animal, like an elephant.

"I love you so much I'll never be able to tell you; I'm frightened to tell you."

Also for sale next Tuesday is a copy of Thomas's first collection of 18 poems which also has a handwritten message inscribed to his wife.

It alone has been valued at upwards of £30,000.

They were sold by Caitlin to American collector Maurice F Neville in 1975 - 19 years before her death.

Thomas expert Dr James Davies said in an ideal world they would be bought for the people of Wales.

But he said: "There are only two places in Wales that they could go.

"One is the National Library in Aberystwyth and the other possibility is the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea because both these institutions have substantial collections of Dylan Thomas material.

"Whether either can afford them or would want them given that they are published I do not know.

"It's one thing to read them in a volume of collected letters - it's quite another thing to actually hold the page and see the squiggles and get some sense of the kind of excitement Thomas had when he wrote these letters.

"It would be a good thing if an institute nearer home could buy them."



SEE ALSO
Castle auction seeks foreign bids
02 Apr 04 |  South West Wales
'Dylan's pub' up for sale
13 May 03 |  South West Wales
Wreath-laying marks poet's death
08 Nov 03 |  South West Wales

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