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Dylan Thomas was born on Wales’s southwest coast in Swansea. (Photograph by Hulton-Deutsch Collection / Corbis)

Dylan Thomas’s Wales

In October 2014 the literary world celebrates the 100th birthday of the late Dylan Thomas.

Few places meant more to the Welsh poet than Swansea, on Wales’s southwest coast. “This sea-town was my world,” he wrote of the “ugly lovely” place where he grew up and wrote the majority of his life’s work.

Dylan Mania: October 24-26, catch local singer-songwriters performing at the Do Not Go Gentle festival—a contemporary take on Thomas’s lifestyle here as part of the arty Kardomah Gang—followed by the 36-hour “Dylathon” reading October 26-27 at the Swansea Grand Theatre. Plus, peruse handwritten manuscripts at the Dylan Thomas Centre.

Where to Stay: Overnight at Thomas’s birthplace, the restored Edwardian house at Number 5 Cwmdonkin Drive. A gramophone, scrunched balls of paper, and half-smoked Woodbines set the scene, as does the window vantage of ships that appear, as Thomas wrote, to “sail across rooftops.” 

Poetic License: Drive west from Swansea to the sandy surf spots and rocky coves of the Gower Peninsula, one of Britain’s most scenic coastlines.

Travel Trivia: Contrary to myth, Bob Dylan did not give himself the Welsh poet’s name (though he admits he was influenced by him), but actor Pierce Brosnan did christen his son Dylan Thomas.

This piece, written by Abigail King, first appeared in the October 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.