Dylan Thomas was born on October 27, 1914 in Swansea, South Wales. While his parents spoke both English and Welsh, he wrote in English.
Thomas was a shy and sickly child who enjoyed reading on his own. He did well in this subject, and was not fond of the other subjects in school. He attended Swansea Grammar school where his father taught. Thomas' first poem was published in the school's magazine, of which he later became the editor.
Thomas dropped out of school when he was 16 to be a reporter for South Wales Daily Post. The job only lasted 18 months before he quit to focus on his poetry. Between 1930 and 1934 he wrote 200 poems that were kept in notebooks. More than half of the poems he wrote were written during his late teens. These notebooks are now on exhibit at the Dylan Thomas Center in Swansea. Some of his inspiration came from the summer visits to his aunts' farms.
Some of his famous poems were written while he was a teenager:
"And Death Shall Have No Dominion"
"Before I Knocked" and
"The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"
At the age of 20, his first book, 18 Poems, was published. From this point forward he started to abuse alcohol.
Two years after 18 Poems was published, Thomas met Caitlin Macnamara in a bar. He proposed to her on the spot, and the couple was married on July 11, 1937. They had two sons and a daughter.
Thomas was too ill to fight during WWII, so he became a script writer to support his struggling family. He also read his poetry aloud. These recitations were more like performances than readings.
Thomas' last collection of poems, Collected Poems 1934-1952, won the Foyle poetry prize.
Dylan Thomas came to New York on October 20, 1953 for a tour of poetry readings. He was ill before he left home, and the smog of New York and heavy drinking while there only exacerbated his symptoms. He went into a coma on November 5th, and later died on November 9, 1953. An autopsy was performed that discovered pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and a fatty liver.