• John Ackerman
Part of the Macmillan Literary Companions book series (LICOM)


Even more notable and influential than his film work was, of course, Dylan Thomas’s work for radio, not only as writer, critic and narrator but also as an actor and, especially, as poetry reader, particularly in the post-war years when he broadcast almost weekly. Richard Burton vividly remembered his reading of Private Dai Evans in David Jones’s In Parenthesis, while his dramatisation of Satan in Paradise Lost was a renowned performance, and his broadcast readings of Blake and Hopkins were uniquely powerful. Undoubtedly this varied BBC work made him even more attuned and sensitive to the possibilities of the spoken word. Such broadcast talks as ‘Reminiscences of Childhood’, ‘Memories of Christmas’, ‘Holiday Memory’ and ‘Return Journey’, all largely autobiographical, and the later ‘A Visit to America’ and ‘A Story’ which he read on television in 1953, belong to Thomas’s most original, personal contribution to English prose style. They represent the creation of a medium of expression that uses the full potential of language to evoke aurally and visually place, person, time and atmosphere. It was an alchemy of the word and spell of the speaking voice that were returned to the dramatic preeminence they held on the Elizabethan bare and viewless stage when the poet’s words prompted ‘our imaginary forces’.


Return Journey Paradise Lost Sponge Cake Speaking Voice Prose Style 
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  1. 1.
    See Gwen Watkins, Portrait of a Friend (Llandysul, 1983) p. 92.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dylan Thomas, The Collected Letters, ed. Paul Ferris (London, 1985) p. 862.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dylan Thomas, ‘I Am Going to Read Aloud’, The London Magazine, vol. 3, no. 9 (September 1956) p. 15.Google Scholar

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© John Ackerman 1991

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  • John Ackerman

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