In this riveting new account of the life of one of the most celebrated and contradictory figures of the twentieth century, acclaimed biographer Andrew Lycett peels back the layers of story that have accumulated around the life of Dylan Thomas. When he died in New York in 1953, Thomas was only thirty-nine years old, and the myths soon took hold. He became the Keats and the Byron of his generation--the romantic poet who died too young, his potential unfulfilled. Making masterful use of original material from archives and personal papers, Lycett describes the development of Thomas as a young poet, brings invaluable new insights to his youthful poetry and the themes that continued to appear in his work, and unearths fascinating details about Thomas's many affairs and his tempestuous marriage to his passionate Irish wife, Caitlin. Lycett uses as his overwhelming motif the deeply ambivalent forces in Thomas's life--"I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me"--the forces that allowed him to be a wild boy in public and a private poet of deep sensitivity, that helped him bridge the gap between modernism and pop, between the written and spoken word, between individual and performance art, between the academy and the forum. Throughout, the social and historical context of Thomas's struggles and accomplishments are vividly presented. The result is a poignant yet stirring portrait of the chaos of Dylan Thomas's personal life and a welcome re-evaluation of the lyricism and experimentalism of his poetry, plays, and short stories.