Double Drink Story: My Life with Dylan Thomas by Caitlin Thomas - review by Sean Day-Lewis

Sean Day-Lewis

Poets Should Choose Their Partners with Care

Double Drink Story: My Life with Dylan Thomas


Virago 174pp £12.99

‘'Whatever other mistakes you make,' my maternal grandmother warned her daughter, 'never marry a poet.' My mother consequently set aside her doubts and started her twenty-two years of wedded blisters cherishing my poet father. It seems Caitlin Macnamara received no such encouragement before or after she first found herself in bar-clinging proximity to Dylan Thomas at the Wheatsheaf, in Rathbone Place, London W1, in April 1936. Any passing concern on the part of her distracted mother, Yvonne, had been superseded by Yvonne's adoration of the commanding lesbian Nora Summers. If Yvonne allowed herself a moment of worry about young Dylan, she probably reckoned him slightly less unsuitable than Caitlin's previous lover, the ageing painter Augustus John. Particularly if, as rumour suggested, Augustus was also Caitlin's father.

Caitlin arrived in 1913, apparently the youngest of four children born to Francis and Yvonne Macnamara , both Irish. After Francis, a failed poet, walked away from the marriage, Caitlin and her siblings were permitted a free-ranging childhood at their mother's Hampshire home. Hovering around the family were Nora Summers, her husband Gerald, and Augustus John. In 1931 Caitlin moved to London to train for the ballet, emulating her dance idol Isadora Duncan, and serving

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