Swanseas Dylan Thomas Centre has been awarded £935,700 by the Heritage Lottery Fund
, securing its future and the legacy of its most famous son a century after his birth.
The HLF grant will enable the expansion of the current Dylan Thomas Exhibition, allowing for unique memorabilia, previously kept in archives, to be placed on display. This includes a short, but sweet, love letter from Dylan Thomas to his wife Caitlin, hastily scribbled on the back of a pay-in bank stub. As part of this project, a collection of Thomas notebooks will be returned to Wales on loan for the first time since he sold them in 1941 to the University of Buffalo, in New York, where he later died.
During 2014 the Dylan Thomas Centre will be the focus of the centenary celebrations, in Swansea and beyond, reflecting its role as an international hub for Dylan Thomas sites worldwide. The grant awarded will ensure that the new-look exhibition can now be opened in time to mark the centenary of his birthday in October.
Hannah Ellis, Thomas granddaughter, has played a key role in securing funding for the project. Commenting on the significance of preserving this collection that tells her grandfathers complex story, she said: The Centre is home to the largest collection of Dylan Thomas related material in the world, a collection that provides a unique insight into who my grandfather truly was. I want young and new audiences to be able to learn about and discover my grandfathers poems, his stories and his plays. This grant from the HLF will bring the exhibition into the 21st Century and open it up for future generations to enjoy.
Manon Williams, Chair of HLFs Committee for Wales, said: Dylan Thomas is not only an iconic Welsh figure, he is also recognised as one of the worlds greatest literary figures whose life and works play a central part in our national consciousness. During a year of festivities marking his life, the Heritage Lottery Fund is thrilled to be able to play a part in anniversary celebrations by ensuring that his legacy is secured and revived.
Born in Swansea in 1914, Dylan Thomas is regarded as an iconic Welsh figure, both in Wales and further afield. His work reflects much of Swanseas history in the early 20th century and he is best known for his many great poems including: Fern Hill; The Hunchback in the Park; and Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. Following his death in 1953 at the age of 39, his life and work have continuously been a source of interest and he boasts a large number of high-profile admirers, including former US President Jimmy Carter, who officially opened the Dylan Thomas Centre in 1995.
President Jimmy Carter, a lifelong fan of the poet said: Dylan Thomas was one of the greatest poets of the past century and I have always felt an affinity to his poetry and literature. I have continuously advocated the importance of commemorating his life and work and having first opened this important centre in Swansea, it is great to see that this funding will ensure that the Dylan Thomas Centre can continue to thrive in years to come.