D. M. Thomas, is a Cornish novelist, poet, and translator.

D H Thonas, White Hotel

D. M. Thomas, is a Cornish novelist, poet, and translator best known for his novel "White Hotel"

Donald Michael Thomas (born 1935 in Redruth, Cornwall). Until 1939 he lived in a bungalow that his father, a plasterer, built. He emigrated to Melbourne in Australia at the age of fourteen - his sister had already married an Australian airman, and had emigrated.

On return from Australia in 1951, Thomas began his National Service in 1953, most of which involved learning Russian. After National Service, Thomas studied English at New College Oxford, graduating with First Class honours in 1959 (and taking his MA).

Crucial factors in his upbringing are said to have been: his tin-mining ancestry, which is often explored in his poetry: the Methodist values of his parents: Cornwall's geographical isolation and Celtic past.

His early family environment was loving and rather sheltered, and according to his frank autobiography, Memories and Hallucinations, Thomas spent much of the rest of his life catching up on what really goes on in the world.

For many years he was a teacher and lecturer, while writing and publishing poetry. He has published seven collections of verse; thirteen novels, translations of Russian poetry, a biography and a memoir.

He is best known for novel The White Hotel (1981), the story of a woman undergoing psychoanalysis. Like much of his work, it is not particularly popular in the UK, but has proved very popular in continental Europe and the United States. The White Hotel is certainly his “masterpiece”, but Pictures at an Exhibition and Eating Pavlova, which have strong claims to be viewed alongside it in his pantheon of fame.

1958: Married Maureen Skewes. 1960 daughter Caitlin born (Caitlin, a chiropractor, lives with her partner and two children in St. Ives, Cornwall; a third child, her firstborn, died following a drowning accident). 1963 son Sean born (Sean, is a novelist and journalist, and lives in London. His second novel, Kissing England, was published in 2000). In the mid-1970s he divorced Maureen, married Denise Aldred.

His second marriage to Denise ended with her death from cancer in 1998. Their son from this marriage, Ross (born 1977), is a graduate in journalism from Humber College, Toronto. Ross is married to a Canadian, and has three step-children.

1987: Moved back to Cornwall.

Thomas's memoir Memories and Hallucinations (1988), an exercise in writing-as-therapy which followed his own experience of psychoanalysis after a nervous breakdown and a “writer's block”.

In the 1990s Thomas published three novels. Flying in to Love (1992) is a fictionalisation of the Kennedy assassination, Pictures at an Exhibition (1993) is a kind of sequel to The White Hotel, Eating Pavlova (1966) which purports to be Freud's personal diary. A minor novel Lady with a Laptop (1996) followed (published only in America), and 2000 saw the publication of his rewriting of the end of Jane Eyre, Charlotte.

1999: Married Victoria Field. He lives in Truro, Cornwall, with Victoria, a dog and two cats.

D H Thomas Biography

He records his loves and hates as:-

LOVES

Apricot wine, brandy and Broadway musicals, Cornwall and cricket and comedians and cigarettes, dreams, erotica and eyes, feisty but feminine females, graciousness, hymn singing by Cornish or Russian choirs, Italy, jokes, kissing, lying together, mysteries and movies, news, olden days and styles, pasties, Queen Elizabeth I, rugby, stockings and suspenders, travel, the unconscious, Vermeer, women and wit and wine, X.J. Kennedy's poem Nude descending a staircase, yin and yang, the film Zulu.

HATES

Atheists, boobs (the word), cheese, dancing I'm asked to join in, extremists and Europhiles, folk songs and feminists, gushing and garrulousness, hymns sung by Anglican choirs, -isms and intellectuals, jeans, kissing cheeks, luvvies, Marxists and milk, nipples (mine) being touched, oily TV personalities, political correctness and pomposity, quangos, racing (horse-), spiders and snakes, trousers on women, uxoriousness, vanity, Wagner, Xmas (commercialised), yoghurt and yodelling, zealots.

 

Return to Cornwall Famous People