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The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas [Hardcover]

Hilly Janes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
Price: 12.91 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 May 2014
Dylan Thomas was one of the most extraordinary poetic talents of the twentieth century. Poems such as 'Do not go gentle into that good night' regularly come top of polls of the nation's favourites. His play Under Milk Wood is studied in schools all over the world and has never been out of print. Thomas lived a life that was rarely without incident and died a death that has gone down in legend as the epitome of Bohemian dissoluteness. In The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas, journalist Hilly Janes explores that life and its extraordinary legacy through the eyes of her father, the artist Alfred Janes, who was Thomas's great friend and painted the poet at three key moments, in 1934, 1953 and, posthumously, 1965. Using the portraits as focal points, The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas plots the poet's journey from his birthplace in Swansea to his untimely death in a New York hospital in 1953. Drawing on a personal archive that includes drawings, diaries, letters and new interviews with Thomas's friends and descendants, as well as with biographers, critics and art historians, Hilly Janes manages to bring to life the poet and his times in this highly original and powerful narrative. This portrait goes beneath the reputation of the feckless, disloyal, boozy Welsh bard to reveal a very complex character. Feckless and disloyal, yes, but also lovable, charming, scholarly, dedicated and vulnerable.

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The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas + Dylan Thomas Omnibus: Under Milk Wood, Poems, Stories and Broadcasts + Collected Stories
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The Robson Press (15 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849546886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849546881
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 71,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Hilly Janes writes on Dylan as if he was a great family friend which indeed he was. This is no fusty academic study written at a remove, but a thoroughly readable, wise and funny insight into one of Britain's most celebrated twentieth-century writers. --Rosie Millard

4/5 [I]t reveals tiny human details that bring him to life in a way more academic biographers would give their eye teeth for... through this highly personal and affectionate book you will come to see this troubled beguiling man as his friends did. --Daily Express

One closes Hilly Janes's modest, but clear-sighted, life with the conclusion that he had an extraordinary gift, most of which he splattered against the pub-lavatory wall. And one really ought, one thinks, take another look at the work of Fred Janes. --John Sutherland, The Times

[An] engaging, accessible biography...The book is at its best when grounding and humanising the man, stripping away some of the layers of myth, and placing him among friends, allowing us to see him as Janes's father saw him. --Natasha Tripney, The Observer

[I]t is a reminder that the point about Thomas was not his chaotic life but his luminous talent. --Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times

Hilly Janes has written the best of the many books about Dylan Thomas which I have read. --Allan Massie, The Scotsman

What makes this book so readable is the fact that it offers rather more than Dylan Thomas and his insalubrious escapades... Her analysis of his literary legacy is deft, but almost the most delightful thing about this book is its tribute to her talented father, who died in 1999 and was clearly a man of integrity. --Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

5/5 Drawing on a vast personal archive and interviews with friends and relatives, this portrayal goes beyond the stereotype of the boisterous Swansea swaggerer. --The Lady

Brisk and sympathetic, its greatest interest is its account of Thomas' posthumous legend. --The Tablet

He was half stifled by his own mythography … This is why it is helpful to have a memoir like Hilly Janes: Thomas becomes human again, not a doomed Dionysus. --New Statesman

The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas is a great read. It doesn't pull any punches when it comes to his complex life with his wife ... Loved it. --Britmums

About the Author

Hilly Janes is an award-winning feature writer and editor with twenty years experience on national quality newspapers and magazines including The Independent, The Times, Prospect, The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, The Observer and the Financial Times. Daughter of the artist Alfred Janes, Hilly was born on the Gower Peninsula; the landscape of rural south-west Wales and Swansea evoked so beautifully in Thomas's work were those of her own childhood. Today, Hilly lives with her husband and two teenage children in north London, where she works as a freelance journalist, author, media consultant and events organiser.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book very much 15 Aug 2014
By Ellie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book very much, not only because Dylan is my favourite poet, but as the author, her family and Dylan were family friends. So places and names are all familiar to me. However, this book has clarified fuzzy areas and filled in many gaps in my knowledge and understanding of the life of Dylan and his piers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting piece of journalism. 27 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As someone who considers the poetry some of the finest in the English language, but is not deep into Thomasology I enjoyed this gossipy piece of good quality journalism. I suspect there is not much that is new about Thomas's life for those well acquainted with the abundant previous biographies and memoirs. But there may be some new material on some of his friends, especially the author's father, the not insignificant painter, Fred Janes, whose three portraits of his friend Dylan give the book its title. For me the most interesting feature about the book is its portrait of a fairly close knit community of cultural icons, with modest social backgrounds, from the small city of Swansea. Had they been Londoners, and had more money behind them, one can't help feeling they would have become as well known as the Bloomsbury set.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Actuall very readable 11 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very readable biography in an area prone to cultural snobbery pointing out the faults as well as the wonders of Thomas and his poetry
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 17 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very good
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