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Hilly Janes

Ugly, Lovely: Dylan Thomas’s Swansea and Carmarthenshire of the 1950s in pictures

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"An exciting publication that allow us to inch ever closer to this genius of a man"

-Cerys Matthews


Ethel Ross, the sister in law of Alfred Janes, was the guardian of Dylan Thomas' legacy for decades. Shortly after his death in 1953, She compiled a photo memoir of his haunts in and around Swansea. Ugly, Lovely: Dylan Thomas’s Swansea and Carmarthenshire of the 1950s in pictures is a touching collection of Ethel's photos accompanied by quotes from Dylan Thomas' poetry and her own comments. Together they provide an unprecedented portrait of Swansea, Laugharne, and Llansteffan in the 1950s, letting the reader see the Carmarthenshire landscape for the first time through the eyes of Wales' most celebrated poet.

Ugly, Lovely also contains a rarely seen satirical sketch, 'Lunch at Mussolini's', written by Thomas as a schoolboy. 

'This particular sketch he gave to me to put on at the Swansea Little Theatre. In those days I used to write comic sketches for the party held after each show; but it was never produced, probably because I managed in the end to put together something more topical for the society. I still have the script, however.'

- Ethel Ross

'Lunch at Mussolini's' offers a vivid and whimsical insight into the early workings of Dylan's mind and a caustic satire of the dictator's life. Patiently preserved by Ethel, the sketch will be published for the first time alongside her photo memoir.

Hilly Janes is an award-winning writer and editor who has worked for many national newspapers and magazines including the Times, Guardian, Observer, Independent and Prospect magazine. She spent her first ten years on the Gower peninsula, where her aunt, Ethel Ross, a lecturer in education, shared the family home. Hilly now lives in London with her husband and two children. Her biography, The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas, is based on portraits of the poet painted by her father, the Swansea-born artist Alfred Janes.