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Wales celebrates Dylan Thomas in New York

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Any literary New Yorker worth his or her salt knows that the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas often frequented the White Horse Tavern – although many also mistakenly believe that Thomas died at the well-known Village bar as well.

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2014 marks the centennial of Thomas’s birth in a small house in the town of Swansea, Wales. In honor of the esteemed writer, the Welsh government is hosting a yearlong birthday party called the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival, which also includes a self-guided walking tour of the Welsh poet’s favorite haunts in New York, including the site of St. Vincent’s Hospital where Thomas actually died.

To celebrate the United States launch of the festival, various members of the New York and Welsh press gathered at the White Horse Tavern to join The Rt Hon. Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales, as well as Dylan Thomas’s granddaughter, Hannah Ellis, and the acclaimed Welsh poet Peter Thabit Jones.

Jones created the walking tour of Thomas’s favored locales in New York with Thomas’s daughter Aeronwy Thomas Ellis. To accompany the self-guided tour, a smartphone app highlights 10 places located in and around Greenwich Village that are synonymous with the Welsh poet. The app can be downloaded free of charge from iTunes and Google Play.

Between 1950 and 1953, Thomas visited New York while on four reading tours of the United States. Located on the corner of Hudson and 11th Streets, the White Horse Tavern features a room dedicated to Thomas and decorated with paintings, posters, and memorabilia associated with Thomas’s life and work.

Approximately two hours in length, the walking tour and its app are accompanied by a pocket guidebook written by Jones and Thomas’s daughter, with a foreword by Thomas’s granddaughter.

Throughout the year, the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival will celebrate the poet’s life with a broad range of cultural activities in various artistic disciplines, including literature, opera, theatre, and painting. The Festival’s Royal Patron HRH Prince of Wales recorded a reading of Thomas’s “Fern Hill,” the poet’s homage to a rural west Wales childhood.

For those planning a Dylan-themed trip to Wales, a website has been dedicated to all events surrounding the Dylan Thomas 100 Festival.