Gwyn Thomas, 1913 - 1981
Novelist, Playwright, Broadcaster and Raconteur
Gwyn Thomas was born on 6th July 1913 in Cymmer, near Porth in the Rhondda Valley ...
THOMAS CENTENARY, 6th July 2013
Anthony Hopkins unveiling this bust in the New Theatre, Cardiff,
by scuptor, Robert Thomas in 1994
Flowers were placed in front of his bust and rose petals were scattered in Llanwonno, where his own ashes were scattered over thirty years ago.
Many of the video clips in existence of Gwyn’s broadcasts have been placed on YouTube and can be seen here!
'Gwyn Thomas' by Molly Parkin.
Oil on canvas approx. 39cms by 49 cms
Painted about 1957
This oil painting of Gwyn Thomas (the only one in existance) was done by a young Molly Parkin soon after she left art college in the mid 1950's. Molly's mother, who lived in Barry where the Thomases also lived, was a friend of Gwyn's wife, Lyn, and had arranged the commission. At the time Gwyn was teaching at the Barry Grammar School for Boys. After returning home from school in the afternoon he would usually write for about two hours which was also the time Lyn had given for the three sittings to take place. You can see a slight impatience in the eyes. Gwyn often wore the cavalry twill jacket, pale blue shirt and red tie for school and this is faithfully recorded in the painting. Molly Parkin went on to become a very successful fashion journalist, novelist and in recent years has returned to her first love, painting.
Watch out for more news!
The Life of Gwyn Thomas,
written in his own inimitable way
Published and Unpublished Writings of Gwyn Thomas
Gwyn Thomas was born on 6th July 1913 in Cymmer near Porth in the Rhondda Valley, the son of a miner - 'an underground ostler with no love of coal and no luck with horses'. He was the youngest of twelve children. His mother died when he was six and he was brought up by his older sister, Nana. Childhood
In 1930 a State Scholarship took him from Porth Grammar School to St. Edmund Hall, Oxford to study modern languages and a Miners Scholarship later enabled him to study for six months in Madrid before graduating in 1934. Education
His first job was as a lecturer for the 'Workers' Educational Association' in South Wales. Then after his marriage to Lyn Thomas in 1938 he worked as a social service officer in Lancashire and Cheshire before going to Cardigan Grammar School as French master in 1940. In 1942 he moved to Barry Grammar School where he taught Spanish for the next twenty years before devoting himself entirely to writing and broadcasting.
He was a prolific writer. Everything was written in long hand in exercise books and then typed by his wife, Lyn. Eventually he filled about five hundred of these notebooks with eleven novels (two posthumous) and collections of short stories, numerous radio and television plays, stage plays and essays for a variety of national and international magazines. For several years he contributed a regular Saturday column in the 'Western Mail', with occasional feature articles. The Saturday column, ostensibly a criticism of the week's television, served mainly as a launching pad from which Gwyn was able to take off on many and varied tangents.
Those of us who enjoyed his company and who knew the private man as well as the public performer, recall with undiminished pleasure his sparkling conversation, with his ability to change the tone in a word from one of fearsome indignation to exploding hilarity, making full use of his vast vocabulary to create word pictures in a dazzlingly inventive and original manner.
On a purely personal level we recall his surprising shyness, his kindness, his compassion but above all that sharp and imaginative perception of humour, which continued to shine with unfailing enthusiasm long after his health began giving cause for concern. He once wrote:-
"In the darkest night of the spirit, laughter is the signal that we are fully and unconquerably still there. And when a fine laughter maker falls still, the night itself, for a while, will be inconsolable".
Only now do we begin to see what he meant!
(High on Hope - edited by Jeffrey Robinson and Brian McCann)