Discover Dylan Thomas’ stories 2018-03-04T17:44:21+00:00

Dylan’s early stories were dark and surreal and very reminiscent of his poetry of the time.  He contributed  many of them to the Swansea Grammar School magazine, Adelphi and other journals. They appear again in The Map of Love, his 1939 collection of poetry and prose.

His later stories, such as the ones included in his  collection, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Dog (1940) and his popular, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, look back nostalgically at his childhood.

Dylan started a novel, Adventures in the Skintrade, but it was never completed.

 

 

 

Click the picture to visit the National Library of Wales online exhibition.

list of stories

The stories listed below are a mixture of Dylan’s early and later stories, as well as some of his broadcasts.  They can all be found in Dylan Thomas: Collected Stories, edited by Walford Davies (1983) and published by Orion.

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

  • First published in Swansea Grammar School Magazine, vol. 28, no.1 (April 1931) Collected in Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: From the stairs, the shadows slid gently down into the hall. He could see the dark outline of the banisters reflected across the mirror, and the arc of the chandelier throwing its light. But that was all.
  • First published in Swansea Grammar School Magazine, vol. 30, no.3 (December 1933) Collected in Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: On the day the travelling waxworks came to town the attendant vanished. Next morning the proprietor called at the employment agency and asked for a smart lad who could talk English. But the smart lads talked Welsh, and the boy from Bristol had a harelip.
  • First published in Swansea Grammar School Magazine, vol. 31, no.2 (July 1934) Collected in Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: The boy was more afraid of the dark garden than anything else in the world. It was frightening enough in the twilight, but when there was blackness above and below and the trees spoke among themselves, the garden was too terrible to think about.
  • Dated 8 August 1934 in the ‘Red Notebook’ and first published in Early Prose Writings in 1971
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: A flying fleet came out of the shadow, (the hangar of shadows), and the arsenal of the iron mist, hovered over the island and, hidden in the smoke of the exhausts, dropped death upon the cities.
  • Recorded in Dylan’s ‘red notebook’ and dated November 1933. It was first published in New English Weekly, March 15th 1934. Collected in A Prospect of the Sea and Other Short Stories and Prose Writings in 1955.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: “The fair was over, the lights in the coconut stalls were put out, and the wooden horses stood still in the darkness, waiting for the music and the hum of the machines that would set them trotting forward. One by one, in every booth, the naphtha jets were turned down and the canvases pulled over the little gaming tables. The crowd went home, and there were lights in the windows of the caravans.” 
  • Dated December 28th 1933 in the ‘red notebook’, it was first published in the Adelphi in December 1934. Collected in The Map of Love in 1939 and A Prospect of the Sea and Other Short Stories and Prose Writings in 1955
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: “Rising from the house that faced the Jarvis hills in the long distance, there was a tower for the day-birds to build in and for the owls to fly around at night. From the village the light in the tower window shone like a glow-worm through the panes; but the room under the sparrows’ nests was rarely lit; webs were spun over its unwashed ceilings; it stared over twenty miles of the up-and-down county, and the corners kept their secrets where there were claw marks in the dust.”
  • Dated January 22nd 1934 in the ‘red notebook’ where it has the title ‘Martha’. It was first published in Yellowjacket in December 1939. Collected in Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: The old woman upstairs had been dying since Helen could remember. She had lain like a wax woman in her sheets since Helen was a child coming with her mother to bring fresh fruit and vegetables to the dying.
  • Dated February 11th 1934 in the ‘red notebook’, it was first published in New Stories in July 1934. Collected in The Map of Love in 1939 and A Prospect of the Sea and Other Short Stories and Prose Writings in 1955
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: Up came the roots, and a crooked worm, disturbed by the probing of the fingers, wriggled blind in the sun. Of a sudden the valley filled all its hollows with the wind, with the voice of the roots, with the breathing of the nether sky. Not only a mandrake screams; torn roots have their cries; each weed Mr Owen pulled out of the ground screamed like a baby.
  • Dated March 1934 in the ‘red notebook’, it was first published in Comment on January 4th 1936. Collected in The Map of Love in 1939 and A Prospect of the Sea and Other Short Stories and Prose Writings in 1955
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: When she walked with her husband on Sunday mornings over the fields and down into the village, the boys would smile at her behind their hands, and the shaping of the dress round her belly would set all the widow women talking. She slipped into her new dress, and, looking into the mirror over the fire-place, saw that it was prettier than she had imagined. It made her face paler and her long hair darker. She had cut it low.
  • Dated April 1934 in the ‘red notebook’, it was first published in The Criterion in January 1935. Collected in The Map of Love in 1939 and A Prospect of the Sea and Other Short Stories and Prose Writings in 1955
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: He remembered he had not smiled since that night, seven years ago, when his heart had trembled so violently within him that he had fallen to the ground. There had been strengthening in the unbelievable setting of the sun. Over the hills and the roof went the broad moons, and summer came after spring. How had he lived at all when Callaghan had not blown away the webs of the world with a great shout, and Rhiannon spread her loveliness about him? But the dead need no friends. He peered over the turned coffin-lid. Stiff and straight, a man of wax stared back. Taking away the pennies from those dead eyes, he looked on his own face.
  • Dated July 20th 1934 in the ‘red notebook’, it was first published in Yellowjacket in May 1939. Collected in Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: He saw that the room was full of women. Slowly, still laughing, they gathered close to him. He whispered a word under his breath, and felt the old sickness turn sour in his belly. There was blood before his eyes. Then he, too, burst into laughter. He stuck his hands deep in the pockets of his coat, and laughed into their faces. His hand clutched around a softness in his pocket. He drew out his hand, the softness in it.
  • Dated September 1934 in the ‘red notebook’, it was first published in Contemporary Poetry and Prose in May 1936. Collected in Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: They said that Rhys was burning his baby when a gorse bush broke into fire on the summit of the hill. The bush, burning merrily, assumed to them the sad white features and the rickety limbs of the vicar’s burning baby. That the wind had not blown away of the baby’s ashes, Rhys Rhys had sealed in a stone jar. With his own dust lay the baby’s dust, and near him the dust of his daughter in a coffin of white wood.
  • Derived from ‘Anagram’ and dated October 1934 in the ‘red notebook’; it was first published in The Criterion in July 1936. Collected in The Map of Love in 1939 and A Prospect of the Sea and Other Short Stories and Prose Writings in 1955
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: Marlais awoke that summer morning with his lips still wet from her kiss. This was a story more terrible than the stories of the reverend madmen in the Black Book of Llareggub, for the woman near the orchards, and her sister-stick by the wall, were his scarecrow lovers for ever and ever. What were the sea-village burning orchards and the clouds at the end of the branches to his love for these bird-provoking women?
  • First published in New English Weekly, November 22nd 1934. Collected in Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: The Quincey manor, with its portrait gallery of canine gentlemen, its dining-hall furnished in three periods, and its perilous verandahs from which the bloodless Quinceys, on midsummer nights, would pass their gravish comments on the moon, had resolved to crumble, spurning renovations and improvements, sitting on the camel hill over the disagreeable river, waiting for its end.
  • First published in Life and letters today, Spring 1936. Collected in Prospect
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: Early one morning, under the arc of a lamp, carefully, silently, in smock rubber gloves, the doctor grafted a cat’s head on to a chicken’s trunk.The cat headed creature, in a house of glass, swayed on its legs; though it stared through the slits of its eyes, it saw nothing; there was the flutter of a strange pulse under its fur and feathers; and, lifting its foot to the right of the glass wall, it rocked again to the left.
  • First published in Janus , May 1936. Collected in Prospect
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: He saw the plague enter the village on a white horse. It was a cancerous horseman, with a furuncle for a hat, that galloped the beast over grass and cobble and the coloured hill. Plague, plague, cried Tom Twp as the horse on the horizon, scented the stars, lifted a white head.
  • First published in Contemporary poetry and prose , August-September 1936. Collected in Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: On Cader Peak there was a school for witches where the doctor’s daughter, teaching the unholy cradle and the devil’s pin, had seven country girls. On Cader Peak, half ruined in an enemy weather, the house with a story held the seven girls, the cellar echoing, and a cross reversed above the entrance to the inner rooms.
  • First published in Transition , Autumn 1936. Collected in The Map of Love in 1939 and Prospect in 1955
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: In the eaves of the lunatic asylum were birds who whistled the coming in of spring. A madman, howling like a dog from the top room, could not disturb them, and their tunes did not stop when he thrust his hands through the bars of the window near their nest and clawed the sky.
  • First published in Life and Letters today ,Spring 1937. Collected in Prospect in 1955.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: It was high summer, and the boy was lying in corn. He was happy because he had no work to do and the weather was hot. He heard the corn sway from side to side above him, and the noise of the birds who whistled from the branches of the trees that hid the house.
  • First published in Contemporary poetry and prose , spring 1937. Collected in Early Prose Writings in 1971
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: The Holy Six of Wales sat in silence. The day was drawing to a close, and the heat of the first discussion grew cooler with the falling sun. All through the afternoon they had talked about nothing but the disappearance of the rector of Llareggub, and now, as the first lack of light moved in a visible shape and colour through the room, and their tongues were tired, and they heard the voices in their nerves, they waited only for the first darkness to set in.
  • First published in Wales , Summer 1937. Collected in Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: As I walked through the wilderness of this world, as I walked through the wilderness, as I walked through the city with the loud electric faces and the crowded petrols of the wind dazzling and drowning me that winter night before the West died, I remembered the winds of the high, white world that bore me and the faces of a noiseless million in a busy hood of heaven staring on the afterbirth.
  • First published in Wales , Autumn 1937. Collected in The Map of Love in 1939 and Prospect in 1955
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: Here dwell, said Sam Rib, the two-backed beasts. He pointed to his map of Love, a square of seas and islands and strange continents with a forest of darkness at each extremity.
  • First published in Wales ,March 1938. Collected in Prospect in 1955.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: In the light tent in the swinging field in the great spring evening, near the sea and the shingled boat with a mast of cedar-wood, the hindered decked with beaks and shells, a folded, salmon sail, and two finned oars; with gulls in one flight high over, stork, pelican, and sparrow, flying to the ocean’s end and the first grain of a timeless land that spins on the head of a sand glass, a hop of feathers down the dark of the spring in a topsy-turvy year.
  • First published in Seven , spring 1939. Collected in Early Prose Writings in 1971.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: The boat tugged its anchor, and the anchor flew up from the seabed like an iron arrow and hung poised in a new wind and pointed over the corkscrew channels of the sea to the dark holes and caves in the horizon.
  • First published in Life and Letters Today , October 1938. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: The grass-green cart, with ‘J.Jones, Gorsehill’ painted shakily on it, stopped in the cobblestone passage between ‘The Hare’s Foot’ and ‘The Pure Drop.’ It was late on an April evening. Uncle Jim, in his black market suit with a stiff white shirt and no collar, loud new boots, and a plaid cap, creaked and climbed down.
  • First published in New English Weekly , 10 March 1938. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: In the middle of the night I woke from a dream full of whips and lariats as long as serpents, and runaway coaches on mountain passes, and wide, windy gallops over cactus fields, and I heard the man in the next room crying, ‘Gee-up!’ and ‘Whoa!’ and trotting his tongue on the roof of his mouth.
  • First published in Seven , Christmas 1939. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: The small boy in his invisible engine, the Cwmdonkin Special, its wheels, polished to dazzle, crunching on the small back garden scattered with breadcrumbs for the birds and white with yesterday’s snow, its smoke rising thin and pale as breath in the cold afternoon, hooted under the wash line, kicked the plate at the washhouse stop, and puffed and pistons slower and slower while the servant girl lowered the pole, unpegged the swinging vests, showed the brown stains under her arms, and called over the wall; ‘Edith, Edith, come here, I want you.’
  • First published in Life and Letters Today , December 1939. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: I was standing at the end of the lower playground and annoying Mr Samuels, who lived in the house just below the high railings. Mr Samuel complained once a week that boys from the school threw apples and stones and balls through his bedroom window. He sat in a deck chair in a small square trim garden and tried to read his newspaper. I was only a few yards from him.
  • First published in Life and Letters Today , September 1939. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: One afternoon, in a particularly bright and glowing August, some years before I knew I was happy, George Hooping, whom we called Little Cough, Sidney Evans, Dan Davies, and I sat on a roof of a lorry travelling to the end of the Peninsula. It was a tall, six-wheeled lorry, from which we could spit on the roofs of the passing cars and throw our apple stumps at women on the pavement.
  • First published in Wales , October 1939. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: Standing alone under a railway arch out of the wind, I was looking at the miles of sands, long and dirty in the early dark, with only a few boys on the edge of the sea and one or two hurrying couples with their mackintoshes blown around them like balloons, when two young men joined me, it seemed out of nowhere, and struck matches for their cigarettes and illuminated their faces under bright-checked caps.
  • Completed by early December 1939. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: Mr Humphries, Mr Roberts, and young Mr Thomas knocked on the front door of Mrs Ellyn Evans’s small villa, ‘Lavengro,’ punctually at nine o’clock in the evening. they waited, hidden behind a veronica bush, while Mr Evans shuffled in carpet slippers up the passage from the back room and had trouble with the bolts.
  • Completed by early December 1939. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: Birds in the Crescent trees were singing; boys on bicycles were ringing their bells and pedalling down the slight slope to make the whirrers in their wheels startle the women gabbing on the sunny doorsteps; small girls on the pavement, wheeling young brothers and sisters in prams, were dressed in their summer best and with coloured ribbons; on the circular swing in the public playground, children from the snot school spun themselves happy and sick, crying ‘Swing us!’ and “Swing us!’ and ‘Ooh! I’m falling!’
  • First published in Life and Letters Today , July 1939. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: Mr Farr trod delicately and disgustedly down the dark, narrow stairs like a man on ice. He knew, without looking or slipping, that vicious boys had littered the darkest corners with banana peel; and when he reached the lavatory, the basins would be choked and the chains snapped on purpose.
  • Completed by July 1938. Collected in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in 1940
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: The young man in a sailor’s jersey, sitting near the summer huts to see the brown and white women coming out and the groups of pretty-faced girls with pale fees and scorched backs who picked their way delicately on ugly, red-toed feet over the sharp stones to the sea, drew on the sand a large, indented woman’s figure; and a naked child, just out of the sea, ran over it and shook water, marking on the future two wide wet eyes and a hole in the footprints middle.
  • First published in three separate parts: ‘A Fine Beginning’ in Folios of New Writing , Autumn 1941 , ‘Plenty of Furniture’ in New World Writing , November 1952 and ‘Four Lost Souls’ in New World Writing , May 1953. First published together posthumously in 1953.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: That early morning, in January 1933, only one person was awake in the street, and he was the quietest. Call him Samuel Bennet. He wore a trilby hat that had been lying by his bedside in case the two house-breakers, a man and a woman, came back for the bag they had left.
Click here to go to broadcasts for more details.

  • First Broadcast on BBC Wales , 31 August 1945. First published in Wales , Autumn 1946. Collected in Quite Early One Morning in 1954
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: 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 wind, and if all the lifts were left.
Click here to go to broadcasts for more details.

  • First Broadcast as ‘Memories of Christmas’ for BBC Wales Children’s Hour , on 16 December 1945. This was first published in The Listener , on 20 December 1945 , and Wales , in Winter 1946. Collected in the British edition of Quite Early One Morning in 1954.

    Dylan later wrote a piece called, ‘Conversation about Christmas’. This was first published on 27 December 1947 in Picture Post.

    ‘Memories of Christmas’ and ‘Conversation about Christmas’ were combined to become A Child’s Memories of Christmas in Wales, first published in December 1950 in Harper’s Bazaar. It was later published in the American Edition of Quite Early One Morning in 1954.

  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: 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.
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  • First Broadcast on BBC Wales , 25 October 1946. First published in The Listener , 7 November 1946. Collected in Quite Early One Morning in 1954
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: 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.
Click here to go to broadcasts for more details.

  • First Broadcast on BBC Home Service , 27 December 1946. First published in The Listener , 2 January 1947. Collected in Quite Early One Morning in 1954
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: 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.
Click here to go to broadcasts for more details.

  • First Broadcast on BBC Home Service , 15 June 1947. Collected in Quite Early One Morning in 1954
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: 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.
  • First published in World Review , October 1952. Collected in Prospect in 1955.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: It was six o’clock on a winter’s evening. Thin, dingy rain spattered drizzled paste lighted street lamps. The pavements shone long and yellow. In squeaking galoshes, with mackintosh collars up and bowlers and trilbies weeping, youngish men from the offices bundled home against the thistly wind.
  • Written for BBC television , 10 August 1953. First published in The Listener , 17 September 1953. Collected in Quite Early One Morning in 1954 and Prospect in 1955. Later became The Outing.
  • Available now in: Collected Stories by Dylan Thomas, published by Orion
  • Excerpt: If you can call it a story. There’s no real beginning or end and there’s very little in the middle. It is about a day’s outing, by charabanc, to Porthcawl, which, of course, the charabanc never reached, and it happened when I was so high and much nicer.

stories available in print

The Collected Stories of Dylan Thomas, edited by Walford Davies (2014) and published by Orion.

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Dylan Thomas Omnibus, published by Orion.

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A Dylan Thomas Treasury, selected by Walford Davies (2104) and published by Orion.

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Portrait as a Young Dog, (2104) published by Orion.

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A Child’s Christmas in Wales

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A Child’s Christmas in Wales

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A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Poems and Tiger Eggs by Cerys Matthews

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A Child’s Christmas in Wales, read by Dylan Thomas

 

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Fern Hill and Other Dylan Thomas

Performed by Guy Masterson

 

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