Discover Dylan Thomas’s broadcasts 2018-03-04T17:44:20+00:00

Dylan wrote and performed a number of different types of broadcasts.  One example is the powerful, and very moving, Return Journey, a description of his search for the young and lost Dylan in the debris and destruction of a blitzed Swansea.  In contrast,  his humorous description of  mischievous boys taunting cats, and the exploits of his eccentric aunts and uncles, (and the strange presents!), in his classic A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Between October 1945 and 1948, Dylan was involved in over a hundred broadcasts.  They were mostly for the series called ‘Book of Verse’ produced by John Arlott, and for the Overseas Service.

list of broadcasts

Please click on the below  +  symbols to reveal more information on each subject.

  • First broadcast: 15/02/1943, BBC Home Services
  • Extract: I was born in a large Welsh industrial town at the beginning of the Great War: an ugly, lovely town (or so it was, and is, to me), crawling, sprawling, slummed, unplanned, jerry-villa’d, and smug-suburbed by the side of a long and splendid-curving shore….
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
Click here to go to Collected Stories for more details.

  • First broadcast: 31/08/1945
  • Extract: Quite early one morning in the winter in Wales, by the sea that was lying down still and green as grass after a night of tar-black howling and rolling, I went out of the house, where I had come to stay for a cold unseasonable holiday, to see if it was raining still, if the outhouse had been blown away, potatoes, shears, rat-killer, shrimp-nets, and tins of rusty nails aloft on the winf, and if all the cliffs were left
  • Further information: This was written when Dylan was living in New Quay, West Wales and includes early versions of characters from Under Milk Wood.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991), currently out of print and Dylan Thomas: Collected Stories, edited by Walford Davies (1983) and published by Orion.
  • Broadcast date and place: 21/03/1945, The Welsh Region Children’s Hour.
  • Extract: I like very much people telling me about their childhood, but they’ll have to be quick or else I’ll be telling them about mine.
  • Further information: This was Dylan’s second version of this broadcast, looking back nostalgically at his childhood in Swansea.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
Click here to go to Collected Stories for more details.

  • Broadcast date and place: 16/12/1945, BBC Wales Children’s Hour
  • Extract:One Christmas was so much like another, in those days around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.
  • Further information: This, and ‘Conversation about Christmas’ combined to become ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,edited by Ralph Maud (1991), currently out of print, and Dylan Thomas: Collected Stories, edited by Walford Davies (1983) and published by Orion.(As the later version – ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’).
  • Broadcast date and place: 05/01/1946, BBC Eastern Service
  • Extract: This is not a programme of Welsh poetry, because Welsh poetry is written in the Welsh language, which few of us, including myself, can understand. The position – if poets must have positions, other than upright – of the poet born in Wales or of Welsh parentage and writing his poems in English is, today, made from many people unnecessarily, and trivially, difficult.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 19/05/1946, BBC Home Service
  • Extract: Dylan Thomas: I’ve bored my wife to death for years by saying (among other things that have also bored her to death) that when you listen to poetry you should always be given an idea of the ‘shape’ of the poem.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 18/06/1946, BBC programme – Books and Writers
  • Extract: Ultimately, the magic of poetry is indefinable. Almost anything one says about it is true and important as anything else that anyone else has said. Some people react physically to the magic of poetry, to the moments, that is, of authentic revelation, of the communication, the sharing, at its highest level, of personal experience.
  • Further information: This broadcast included Dylan Thomas, James Stephens and Gerald Bullett discussing poetry in general.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 17/07/1946, BBC Home Service
  • Extract: Wonder is defined as the emotion that you feel when your experience is surpassed; and as a feeling of excitement at the inexplicable. But wonder in poems can be more than that: it can be an expression of what you never knew but always wanted to express. It can be a way of saying something so old you had forgotten it; or so new you could not be expected to remember it.
  • Further information: Dylan chose poetry on the theme of his choice, ‘Poems of Wonder’.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 15/07/1946, African service, and in the four days following, General Overseas Service and North American Service
  • Extract: And what is Montrose Street? What does it look like? It is a grey-bricked street of one hundred houses. Built in 1890. Two bedrooms, a front room and a kitchen. Bathrooms were built into less than half of the houses in 1912. A scullery and a backyard. Rent 28 shillings. Too cold in the winter, too hot in the summer. Ugly, inconvenient, and infinitely depressing.
  • Further information: The script was the day in the life of a London street in Shepherd’s Bush and has a similar style also seen in Under Milk Wood.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 27/07/1946, BBC Eastern Service
  • Extract: Wilfred Owen was born in 1893 and killed in 1918. twenty-five years of age, he was the greatest poet of the first Great war. Perhaps, in the future, if there are men, then, still to read – by which I mean, if there are me at all – he may be regarded as one of the greatest poets of all wars.
  • Further information: Dylan chose a selection of Wilfred Owen poems and interspersed them with narration.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 22/09/1946, WOR
  • Extract: After tumbling and rumbling, tackling and re-tackling, we reached Margate, to the great joy of Neptune’s patients…the few who were not affected by the towering motion experienced from hunger pains that need not be described…It was impossible to land at the pier, through the lowness of the tide, and boats put off, to our relief, for, to say truth, the Margatians are a friendly sort of people whenever they can use a Wrecking Hook or make demands upon the purse.
  • Further information: This was recorded for the station WOR in New York. They provided a feature about Coney Island.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 08/10/1946, BBC Home Service
  • Extract: The way to begin a story depends not so much upon what you mean by a story as upon the story itself and the public for which it is intended. That this goes without saying need in no way deter me from saying it: these are notes in the margin of a never-to-be-written treatise and are free as the London air, though not so smutty.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 16/10/1946, North American Service
  • Extract: Poetry changes only according to how you can deal with change. People very often talk about poetry as though it’s only about something that you read in books, it’s just a matter of words put down in a certain order, usually bad, on sheets of paper – well, it isn’t. It’s something produced with a great deal of trouble by ordinary human beings who alter as the society in the circumstances under which they live – as that alters so they do.
  • Further information: Dylan was in discussion with the poet Edward Shanks and Anthony McDonald was chair.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
Click here to go to Collected Stories for more details.

  • Broadcast date and place: 25/10/1946, BBC Wales
  • Extract: August Bank Holiday. A tune on an ice-cream cornet. A slap of sea and a tickle of sand. A fanfare of sunshades opening. A wince and whinny of bathers dancing in deceptive water. A tuck of dresses. A rolling of trousers. A compromise of paddlers. A sunburn of girls and a lark of boys. A silent hullabaloo of balloons.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991), currently out of print, and Dylan Thomas: Collected Stories, edited by Walford Davies (1983) and published by Orion.
  • Broadcast date and place: 30/11/1946, BBC Third Programme series
  • Extract: The ghosts of Mr de la Mare, though they reek and scamper, and, in old houses at the proper bad hours, are heard sometimes at their infectious business, are not for you to see. But there is no assurance that they do not see you.
  • Further information: This programme featured Dylan Thomas discussing Walter de la Mare.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
Click here to go to Collected Stories for more details.

  • Broadcast date and place: 27/12/1946, BBC Home Service
  • Extract: Slung as though in a hammock, or a lull, between one Christmas for ever over and a New Year nearing full of relentless surprises, waywardly and gladly I pry back at those wizening twelve months and see only a waltzing snippet of the tipsy-turvy times, flickers of vistas, flashes of queer fishes, patches and chequers of a bird’s-eye view.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991), currently out of print and Dylan Thomas: Collected Stories, edited by Walford Davies (1983) and published by Orion.
  • Broadcast date and place: 24/01/1947, BBC West of England Region, Bristol.
  • Extract: Sometimes melancholy, often distant, proud and politic, delicate and hot-headed, unperturbedly honest, he exercised a grave fascination upon all who met him.
  • Further information: Dylan recorded a talk about Sir Philip Sidney.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 8/03/1947, BBC series The Poet and his critic
  • Extract: It is difficult for a poet to talk about his own poetry, unless he has finished with it or it has finished with him. his own early work may seem to him remote from what he is trying to do now; he may re-read it, with uneasy enjoyment or distaste, as calmly, he thinks, as he would of a contemporary dead man; but every now and then a line or a phrase or a whole passage, not necessarily, by any means, the most effective or memorable, springs from the page and attacks him in its origin.
  • Further information:This was part of a series called The Poet and his Critic. Dylan’s critic was T.W.Earp.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
Click here to go to Collected Stories for more details.

  • Broadcast date and place: 15/06/1947, BBC home services
  • Extract: It was a cold whit day on High Street, and nothing to stop the wind slicing up from the docks, for where the squat and tall shops had shielded the town from the sea lay their blitzed flat graves marbles with snow and headstoned with fences. Dogs, delicate as cats on water, as though they had gloves on their paws, padded over the vanished buildings.
  • Further information: Dylan wrote and read this script about his search of a blitzed Swansea for the his childhood places and the boy he once was.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991), currently out of print and Dylan Thomas: Collected Stories, edited by Walford Davies (1983) and published by Orion.
  • Broadcast date and place: 14/02/1948, BBC series Books and Authors
  • Extract: The condition of the world is such that most writers feel they cannot truthfully be comic about it. (Was the world ever such that they could?) Perhaps they say: Can we single out the amiably comic eccentricity of individual beings, the ludicrous, the gauche, the maximise gawky, the dear and the draft and the droll, the runcible Booby, the Toby, the Pickwick, the barmy old Adam, when daily we are confronted, as social beings, by the dolt and the peeve and the mine and the bully, the maniac new atom? I prefer the attitude of Pepys: 12th Friday. Up, finding our beds good, but lousy; which made us merry.
  • Further information: This is a conversation with Arthur Calder-Marshall.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 30/07/1948, BBC Third programme
  • Extract: There is, in many people, a need to share enthusiasm, which is often expressed in behaviour known, nicely, as ‘showing off’; common to actors, poets, politicians and other trapezists. Many people who read poems like some of them so much that they cannot keep their liking to themselves. They are not content with saying, ‘Do you know de la Eliot’s “Waste Stranger” or WH Houseman’s “A Dog Beneath the Gallows”. Isn’t it, or aren’t they, lovely?’ But they needs must say, ‘Listen to this,’ and reel the lovely stuff off aloud.
  • Further information: This was a journalistic piece on an amateur recitation of poetry competition held in London.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 23/06/1949, BBC Scottish Region
  • Extract: But all this was easy stuff…what was harder to remember was what birds sounded like and said in Gower; what sort of a sound and a shape was Carmarthen Bay; how did the morning come in through the windows of Solva; what silence when night fell in the Aeron Valley. I could not remember, try as I might.
  • Further information: Dylan gave a talk on the subject of returning to live in Wales.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 29/07/1949, BBC Welsh Home Service
  • Extract:I do not know how much of a Welshman Edward Thomas was, and it does not matter. He was a poet, which means that he is a poet still, and always will be, whether in the future he is read or not, or whether no poems at all are read, or whether, because of the powerful insanity of rulers and the apathy or persecution of the innumerable ruled, there is nobody left to read them.
  • Further information: Dylan chose and commented on a selection of Edward Thomas poems.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 24/09/1949, BBC Third Programme
  • Extract: To choose what I should read tonight, I looked through seventy odd poems of mine, and found that many are odd indeed and that some may be poems. And I decided not to choose those that strike me, still, as pretty peculiar, but to stick to a few of the ones that do move a little way towards the state and destination I imagine I intended to be theirs when, in small rooms in Wales, arrogantly and devotedly I began them.
  • Further information: Dylan read a selection of his own poems, with commentary. He read: There Was a Saviour, If my Head Hurt a Hair’s Foot, Poem in October, After the Funeral, A Refusal to Mourn and In My Craft or Sullen Art.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 24/10/1949, Welsh Home Service
  • Extract: Three writers, a painter, and a composer, have come together – in a suburb of Swansea where maybe once a sweeter life hayseed in the old gold dodges – to talk about (more or less) how they regard the town of their birth or upbringing as a place in which to do their work.
  • Further information: Dylan made a broadcast with his Swansea friends, the musician Dan Jones, the artist Alfred Janes and poets Vernon Watkins and John Pritchard.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 25/09/1950, BBC Third Programme
  • Extract: A miscellaneous writer, such as myself, who is prepared to sit in front of this cold utensil and talk, in public confidence, about his new long unwritten poem, deserves to be a successful man-of-letters. I used to think that once a writer became a man-of-letters, if only for half an hour, he was done for. And here I am now, at the very moment of such an odious, though respectable, peril. Perhaps after this I shall become transformed into establishment, all my own doubts and worries will be over, I need bother my head about nothing except birth, death, sex, money, politics, and religion, and, jowled and wigged, aloof as a bloodhound, I may summon my former literary delinquency before me and give it a long, periodic sentence.
  • Further information: Dylan read three poems – In Country Sleep, Over Sir John’s Hill and In the White Giant’s Thigh.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 13/12/1950, BBC Home Service
  • Broadcast script:Dylan Thomas: Would it be true to say about bad verse that it’s bad just as people are bad? It’s bad because it is pretending to be something that it isn’t? It’s a kind of snob of a poem; or it’s lazy and vague and woolly and sloppy and wet? It’s a sentimentalist of a poem,or it’s long-winded, vaporous, without any humour, and it’s swollen up with itself. It’s a bore of a poem.
  • Further information: Dylan hosted a discussion about ‘Bad Poetry’ with George Baker, Roy Campbell and W.R.Rodgers.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 17/04/1951, BBC Home Service
  • Extract: And there was nothing on that hot and hateful bone-dry blistering bank but some dates that nobody kept, and a few lizards who had nowhere else to go or, if they had, would not recognize it. And some jackals, I suppose, full of guilt and a vague sense of ill-being, howling at the Euphrates and waiting for man.
  • Further information: This script was based on Dylan’s experiences of his visit to Iran.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 19/06/1951, Welsh Home Service
  • Extract: The extent of the site of the exhibition on the South Bank of the Thames in the heart of London is four and a half acres. There are twenty-two pavilions in the Exhibitions and thirteen restaurants, cafés, bars and buffets.
  • Further information: This talk was about the festival exhibition at the South Bank in London.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 23/01/1955, BBC Third Programme
  • Extract: The collection of short free-verse poems called Spoon River Anthology written by Edgar Lee Masters, a Chicago lawyer, was published in 1915 when he was forty-five years old; and it shocked the American public so profoundly that it sold a great number of copies.
  • Further information: Dylan wrote but dod not give this talk. It was given, after his death, on the 23 January 1955 and presented by Barbara Kelly and Bernard Braden.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 09/04/1953,
  • Extract: Dylan Thomas: It was a terrible long time ago, as is only too obvious. Before Television – (I’m glad I’m not looking at television tonight, between a quarter-to-eight and a quarter-past-nine. There’s faces you’ll see, they tell me). Before the radio even, I shouldn’t be surprised, when I see that dewy blubber lipped frog-eyed mock goblin from the Welsh bogs goggling at me out of the past. (I think that portrait must have been losing weight; I can hardly recognize it now). before the internal-combustion engine, before the invention of the wheel, oh what a long time ago, in the Golden Days.
  • Further information: This was filmed for TV and included Dylan’s Swansea friends, Vernon Watkins, Alfred Janes and Daniel Jones.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 13/07/1953, BBC Welsh Home Service
  • Extract:Llangollen. A town in a vale in rolling green North Wales on a windy July morning. The sun squints out and is puffed back again into the grey clouds blowing, full to the ragged rims with rain, across the Berwyn Hills. The white-horsed River Dee hisses and paws over the hills of its stones and under the greybeard bridge. Wind smacks the river and you, it’s a cold, cracking morning: birds hang and rasp over the whipped river, against their will, as though frozen still, or are wind-chaffed and scattered towards the gusty trees.
  • Further information: This based on Dylan’s week at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 30/03/1954, BBC Welsh Home Service
  • Extract: Across the United States of America, from New York to California and back, glazed, again, for many months of the year there streams and sings for its heady supper a dazed and prejudiced procession of European lecturers, scholars, sociologists, economist, writers, authorities on this and that and even, in theory, on the United States of America.
  • Further information: This was a script Dylan wrote about his trips touring America in the 1950s.
  • Available now in:Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts,  edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.
  • Broadcast date and place: 05/11/1953, BBC Welsh Home Service
  • Extract: Off and on, up and down, high and dry, man and boy, I’ve been living now for fifteen years, or centuries, in this timeless, beautiful, barmy (both spellings) town, in this far, forgetful, important place of herons, cormorants (known here as billyduckers), castle, churchyard, gulls, ghost, geese, feuds, scares, scandals, cherry-trees, mysteries, jackdaws in the chimneys, bats in the belfry, skeletons in the cupboards, pubs, mud, cockles, flatfish, curlews, rain, and human, often all too human, beings; and, though still very much a foreigner, I am hardly ever stoned in the streets any more, and can claim to be able to call several of the inhabitants, and a few of the herons, by their Christian names.
  • Further information: This talk was broadcast in Laugharne in front of a live audience including Dylan’s wife Caitlin. Just before this broadcast, Caitlin was told that Dylan was seriously ill in an American hospital.
  • Available now in: Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991). Currently out of print.

broadcasts available

A number of the broadcasts are available in print form in the 2014 editions of the Collected Stories, The Dylan Thomas Omnibus and The Dylan Thomas Treasury, published by Orion.

The thirty-four broadcasts listed above can be found in Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts, edited by Ralph Maud (1991) which is currently out of print.

The broadcasts available online are below.

Collected Stories of Dylan Thomas
Edited by Walford Davies (2014)
Published by Orion

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The Dylan Thomas Omnibus
(2014)

Published by Orion

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The Dylan Thomas Treasury
Selected by Walford Davies
(2014)
Published by Orion

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On the Air with Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts
Edited by Ralph Maud
Currently out of print

Buy

Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts
Edited by Ralph Maud (1991)
Currently out of print

Buy

Fern Hill and Other Dylan Thomas
Performed by Guy Masterson

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