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Stars of the arts world follow in footsteps of Welsh literary legend; GUIDED TOURS EXPLORE THE WORLDS OF DYLAN THOMAS.


COMIC Griff Rhys Jones, author and scriptwriter Andrew Davies, Richard Burton's actor nephew Guy Masterton and National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke will be among the hosts for a unique series of literary tours being held in England and Wales next year to celebrate the centenary of Swansea-born poet Dylan Thomas.

Literature Wales has organised a total of 23 tours exploring Thomas' various haunts, including Swansea, Laugharne, Ceredigion, and London.

Oxfordshire will also feature, as Dylan and Caitlin Thomas lived in the summerhouse at Holywell Ford, the home of historian AJP Taylor and his wife Margaret, in the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford, next to the river Cherwell, from January 1946 until March 1947.

The "Dylan Odyssey" tours will allow lovers of the Swansea writer's work to follow in his footsteps by boat, canoe, horse-drawn carriage, bus, on foot and even on horseback.

The one-day tours will run from May to November 2014, forming part of the Welsh Government-led Dylan Thomas 100 Festival.

They will range in price from PS7 to PS47 and, in partnership with Rare Hospitality, Literature Wales is also offering a range of residential packages including country hotels, historic inns and boutique townhouses, most of which will be in Wales.

Other hosts on the tours will include Swansea actress Helen Griffin, former Archdruid T James Jones and writer Owen Sheers.

National Poet Gillian Clarke said: "The centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas is a chance to celebrate our most famous poet right here, in the land, sea and townscapes where he lived and wrote. "He is one of literature's greatest eavesdroppers and word-spinners.

He influenced poetry wherever English is spoken in the world and gave it a Welsh accent.

"I give Literature Wales' A Dylan Odyssey my heartfelt support."

Lleucu Siencyn, chief executive of Literature Wales, added: "The Odyssey tours are Wales' best opportunity to show the world how Dylan's words speak of the places and people he knew best.

"We can't wait to take residents and visitors alike on these unforgettable adventures - each will be a highlight of the year."

In May in Laugharne, a children's walk will retrace the steps of Dylan and Caitlin's children and their dog Mably, from the boathouse to the lawn next to the Taf estuary, for a picnic, a game of rounders and tales from storyteller Daniel Morden and Dylan's granddaughter Hannah Ellis.

It will be followed by an adults' walk around Laugharne and a boat trip exploring the town, led by Guy Masterton, Richard Burton's nephew.

In July in Swansea, scriptwriter Andrew Davies, film critic Berwyn Rowlands and Dylan expert Jeff Towns, president of the Dylan Thomas Society of Great Britain, will explore the remains of the fleapit cinemas Dylan used to frequent in Swansea, delving into his love of Hollywood and the influence of classic 1930s and 1940s movies on his writing.

It will be followed by a specially introduced screening of Andrew Davies' new drama A Poet in New York.

July will see Cerdigion becoming involved when a tour will re-enact Caitlin's journeys on horseback through the beautiful Aeron Valley, her wartime retreat.

This will followed by a talk on "Caitlin the woman, dancer and poet" with writer Jasmine Donahaye and Gillian Clarke.

Also in July, a horse-drawn carriage will take visitors through Dylan's South Carmarthenshire.

In London in October a series of walks will take place, with one being led by Griff Rhys Jones, exploring Dylan's connections with Soho and Fitzrovia.

The walk will centre on pubs like the Wheatsheaf in Rathbone Place and the Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street, where Dylan Thomas caroused with painter Augustus John, met his wife Caitlin, and scripted the many BBC radio programmes he worked on.

In November, another of the odyssey tours will go ahead in Cricieth - Dylan Thomas' Full Moon Walk. It will explore the treatment of mental health in Dylan's literature, and the relationship between mental health and creativity for Dylan and other writers.

The tour will be led by Welsh poet and essayist Robert Minhinnick and writer and poetry therapist Victoria Field.


Guest guide Griff Rhys Jones

A statue of Dylan Thomas outside the Pump House, Swansea
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 25, 2013
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