The most significant events in the history of books on the 27th of October
October the 27th was an historic day for English poetry, because two poets who would leave a lasting mark on English literature – neither of whom was English – came into the world on this day. The course of twentieth-century literary history would be shaped by these two births…
1914: Dylan Thomas is born in Swansea, Wales. Thomas’s middle name was Marlais, after his great-uncle, William Thomas, who was also a poet. As well as his poetry he would also write a classic ‘play for voices’, Under Milk Wood, which was recorded for the radio with Welsh actor Richard Burton providing the voices, among others.
1932: Sylvia Plath is born. As well as the confessional poetry for which she is best known, Plath also wrote a novel, The Bell Jar, and, more surprisingly, a book of nonsense poems for children. The Bed Book contains a number of poems about different kinds of beds; it was only published posthumously, in 1976. As with most classic children’s books, The Bed Book was written for the amusement of the author’s own children. The original British edition was illustrated by Quentin Blake, best known for providing the distinctive illustrations to many of Roald Dahl’s books for children.
But a birthday isn’t all that these two poets share: both poets would die in their thirties, and they both also wrote poems with ‘in October’ in their titles. Here is Thomas reading his ‘Poem in October’, about turning 30, and here is Plath reading her ‘Poppies in October’. Aptly, they also both wrote poems for their birthdays.