635

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English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations

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Thomas, Dylan
THREE AUTOGRAPH LETTERS SIGNED, TO CAITLIN MACNAMARA
unpublished and previously unrecorded love letters by Dylan Thomas to his future wife from the early months of their relationship, five pages, folio, Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands, Swansea, one with autograph envelope, 13-21 August 1936 (latter date from postmark) and "Friday night", slight spotting and creasing

[together with:] Dorelia John, autograph letter signed (“Dodo”) to her daughter Vivien, reporting on the christening of Llewelyn Thomas (“...Caitlin had on her little dark costume & hat with roses and carrying the baby looked just like a heroine in a penny novelette. They are a pathetic couple & I don’t know how they will manage … They are always in the pub & I suppose live on beer...”),  2 pages, Fryern Court, Fordingberidge, Hants, “Sunday”, [May 1940], nicks and tears; [also with:] three family photographs, two depicting Caitlin MacNamara and Vivien John as teenagers, the third of Caitlin with a baby

“…I think we’re bound up for always in some lonely funny way, because I can’t think of anything happening without us being together. Not that the world wouldn’t turn round, and the postman call at seven o’clock, and all the birds in the air bugger about; but I wouldn’t want to do anything at all unless you were there loving me, dizzy as me, liking the same things, not being polite and unnatural and horribly controlled and unemotional…”

Early unpublished love letters by Dylan Thomas. Thomas first met Caitlin Macnamara, his future wife, in the spring of 1936 when the two were introduced at a London pub by the artist Augustus John. The twenty-three year old Macnamara was John's lover and model, and was living with the painter and his family at Fryern Court in Hampshire. Thomas later claimed that he and Caitlin were in bed together within ten minutes, but the relationship remained complex and uncertain for several months. In July 1936 John and Macnamara went to stay with the author Richard Hughes in Laugharne. Thomas invited himself along for the day, and the group's trip around Pembrokeshire ended with John punching a drunk and jealous Thomas and driving off with Macnamara.  Two days later, on 17 July, Thomas wrote a declaration of love to Macnamara.

These letters were written in the aftermath of their meeting in Wales, when Thomas was staying with his parents in Swansea and Macnamara was back in Hampshire. The first letter is a love letter that shifts rapidly in tone from exultant - "It's wonderful to think that you love me too" - to bitter frustration (“…when I think of you doing anything, anything at all, I feel so many hundreds of miles and days away from [me] that I want to lie down and howl like a dog at all the cruel, uncharitable things that muddle us up and won’t let us be together…”). He remembers their first meeting ("...you came into the Wheatsheaf, very vaguely one evening...") and looks past their current separation to imagine their lives together, promising to drink less and take better care of himself and dismissing his bohemian life in London (“…why should I stay in London without you, without you among all the soaks and silly artists, just standing drinking and getting drunk and longing for you every single moment…”)

The second letter continues in a similar vein, as Thomas complains that he is mooning about reading detective novels and longing for her. As the evening darkens, he writes of their meetings ("...twice in London and twice in Wales, four funny times full of drinks and Augustus and castles and quarrels..."), of his joy at receiving "the nicest letter in the world" from her, and remembers their conversation whilst sitting in a pub "with our backs to the window in a very sunstroky afternoon".  The third letter is much shorter and was written on a "Friday night" almost certainly, given the ragged handwriting, on his return from a pub: "this is only to tell you that I'm not dead & that I'm writing a letter which you shall have by Monday". This letter has been crossed through.


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English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations

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London