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Don't understand Shakespeare? You need Dylan Thomas Day!

May 3, 2017

Dylan Day - a celebration of the work of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas - is a great idea for a number of reasons.  Firstly it's always a good idea to celebrate art and literature.  In a world full of Trump, May, Brexit, Syria and conflict, it's a very good idea to remind ourselves of the real reason we are all really here.  For the sweet, satisfied moments of family, friendship, kindness, vision and imagination.  I can’t remember who said a civilised society is only measured by the success of its arts, but as someone from a very working class, impoverished background, I can absolutely attest how the arts in its most general form can be life changing.  A bloke or woman with a pen can literally change lives for the better.

But it's also good that those behind Dylan Day - and I feel involved even though it wasn't my idea - are doing it for all the right reasons.  A while ago, having written The London Literary Pub Crawl script,  I produced ‘Under Milk Wood’ on the 60th anniversary of Dylan Thomas’ death in the very pub where he met his wife.  And it was a joy, as a result of this production, to later meet Dylan’s Son-in-Law and his Granddaughter, Hannah.  And a joy when the beautiful Welsh Cultural VIP Cerys Matthews, an OBE, no less - turned up to buy a ticket and loved the show.  Even though Cerys and her family had to sit on stools behind the bar as all the seats had sold out.

And there's the rub.  I created an acclaimed version of Dylan's ‘Play For Voices’ that attracted Welsh Cultural Royalty and had people moved to tears in our tiny pub non-theatre space.  But the first time I saw it was a school production my younger sister was in and I didn't understand a single word!  It was the same the first time I came across Shakespeare.  

And that’s the real reason these festivals are important.  Their potential to reach out to people who might not engage with the arts or feel that it’s for them.  Like me.  And most of the people I grew up with on our council estate housing project.  It is.  It really is.  If you find Dylan Thomas’ poetry a bit dense, then let me tell you, because I now know - you are not alone.  But the lovely thing about a festival is that it should, if properly promoted, allow non believers to take a punt.  If you find Dylan difficult, forget the poetry and look at what else he wrote.  His prose - some of his short stories - are hilarious!  Give it a go!  I’ll find some links to his collected stories and put them on the London Literary Pub Crawl website.  And listen to some of our Dylan podcast radio shows on the site.

The more I learn about Dylan the more convinced I am that he was a genius.  As we know, a lot of famous writers were from very privileged backgrounds.  And Dylan’s Dad was no slouch.  But the big D was completely focused on being a writer.  He wanted it.  Arguably, he needed it.  But he did it largely himself, though hard work and determination and never went to university.  

It’s interesting, that any artist who didn't attend the great Oxbridge universities seems always to be snubbed early on in their careers.  Including Shakespeare, although he was a bit earlier, of course.  And that’s the great thing about celebrations like Dylan Day.  Our pub crawl is designed to look at Dylan Thomas the man in London, and his contemporaries.  

So forget the privilege and forget the University.  Find the man and you will find the genius.  That's my idea anyway.  Especially because I want you to buy a ticket!


20 years since we lost the Alan Ginsberg Beat, man!

April 8, 2017
Although our ‘manor’, as they say in all the best cockney gangster films, is most definitely London, there was an anniversary this week involving an American writer that I had to mention. - especially as he came to London for a while.  Now, as you know, I love Americans.  I’ve not met a bad ‘un yet.  It’s interesting that since His Trumpness became boss of the good old US of A, there has been a huge rise in the sale of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984.  Shows you what a good ...

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Top Writers Pubs. The King & Queen, Fitzrovia, W1. Bob Dylan, Withnail and not I.

March 4, 2017
There are many pubs in Fitzrovia, just North of Oxford Street in Central London, W1 and most have some claim to fame, but the King & Queen, on Foley Street, in the shadow of the Post Office Tower, is a personal favourite for a number of reasons - although chiefly, as with most decent boozers - because of the staff.  
It's what we would call a ‘proper’ pub.  It's part of a small chain now, I think.  According to the website, it's been owned by the family run LEA Taverns since 1985, and a jo...

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If you are planning on coming to London, check out this creative guide.

February 10, 2017
Good Areas for Creative Pubs in London. 

Chiswick (Listeni/ˈtʃɪzᵻk/ chiz-ick) is a district of West London, England. 

Chiswick, or ‘leafy  Chiswick’ as it seems to be known colloquially throughout London, is an interesting area for many reasons. Not least of which is the fact the London League of Irish Writers was established here in the 20th Century. This may have had something to do with the fact W.B. Yeats made his home here, as did the poet Alexander Pope, ...

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The real Dylan Thomas?

January 29, 2017

It’s been great being involved with the new International Dylan Day. 14 May each year has been designated Dylan Day to mark the first time his play for voices ‘Under Milk Wood’ was performed in public in the USA. It’s a direct lift from Blooms Day, an annual event inspired by one of the lead characters in Ulysses, by James Joyce. We're going to celebrate it this year with an extra tour and extra Dylan content.  Book now for 13th May - the Saturday before the day.  We also have some id...

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About Us

Nick Hennegan Hello. I'm Nick Hennegan and I started the London Literary Pub Crawl. Most of the blogs on here will be by me. I've always written but my first theatrical success was an adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Henry V'. I founded Maverick Theatre in 1994. This pub crawl is really more a promenade theatre performance than a tour and I'm running it with a bunch of enthusiastic local actors and writers. I love sharing my passion for the area and the artists. I also present a radio show on Resonance 104.4fm - London's Arts Station. It's called 'Literary London' and is on Fridays at 7pm (and repeated Weds at 7am.) If you haven't visited us in London yet, I hope you'll come soon. And feel free to leave comments or email me at nick @ LondonLiteraryPubCrawl.com - I reply to them all and I love to hear from you.


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