Dylan Thomas in Oxford

From January 1946 until March 1947 Dylan and Caitlin Thomas lived in the summerhouse at Holywell Ford, the home of Margaret and A.J. P. Taylor, the historian, in the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford, next to the river Cherwell.

Then, from September 1947 until February 1949, at the Manor House, South Leigh, near Witney, Oxford, bought for them by Mrs Taylor, who became Dylan’s patron. From now until his death, Margaret Taylor would provide a place to live for Dylan and his growing family.

There was a saviour
Rarer than radium,
Commoner than water, crueller than truth;
Children kept from the sun
Assembled at his tongue
To hear the golden note turn in a groove,
Prisoners of wishes locked their eyes
In the jails and studies of his keyless smiles

[The first stanza of 'There Was A Saviour' by Dylan Thomas]

Margaret Taylor ran a literary salon at Holywell Ford, inviting Graham Greene, Joyce Cary, Louis MacNeice and Dylan’s composer friend Elizabeth Lutyens, and Dylan would appear as a poetic turn. He drank at the Turf, Gloucester Arms or White’s Club and lunched at the Randolph Hotel with BBC colleagues.

The Thomases were familiar figures in the Cornmarket on Saturday afternoons loaded with string bags full of shopping. Deaths and Entrances had consolidated his literary reputation and he was a popular and familiar voice on BBC radio, working and drinking with John Arlott, Louis MacNeice, Reggie Smith and Bob Pocock. Norman Cameron, Roy Campbell, Dan Jones and others visited them.

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