James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

The following is an extract from “Dylan Thomas” by Paul Ferris [1977], Ch. 8 p 186-7 :-

"One apparent affair during the war turns out not to have been an affair at all, in the sexual sense. Ruth Wynn Owen, a Welsh girl whose family came from Anglesey, was an actress in a touring company that was at Bradford in 1942. Thomas was there to make a documentary about the theatre in wartime. The unit wanted to film a rehearsal with smoking chimneys in the background. She saw 'this little man' standing in the wings as she came off the stage, and as the filming progressed, they got to know one another. He told her: 'Now that I’ve found you, don’t go and die.' She noticed how small his hands and feet were. Soon after, he was writing to her from Strand Films, 'a ringing, clinging office with repressed women all around punishing typewriters, and queers in striped suits talking about ‘Cinema’ and, just at this very moment, a man with a bloodhound’s voice and his cheeks, I’m sure, full of Mars Bars, rehearsing out loud a radio talk on ‘India and the Documentary Movement’. I wish I were on the Halifax moor talking to you, not to dishonest men with hangovers.'

"They met, and failed to meet, in London. At the end of August, Thomas wrote from Talsarn, where he was staying with Caitlin, about a missed appointment at the stage-door: 'I think I must have willed my lateness and weakness, willed it because, simply, I was ashamed of my hysterical excitement of the wet-eyed and over-protesting night before. I remembered losing my head in Piccadilly, which left very little, for my heart had gone two months ago, gone into your by-me-unkissed breast. And you’ll have to forgive now, along with my tears, protestations and denials, my almost archly over-writing writing in this late, loving letter. I can be natural—my behaviour, then, in the black streets was as natural as my too-much drink and my giddiness at seeing you again allowed me—but perhaps my nature itself is over-written and complicated me out of this, you Ruth in a well. Was there something a little clinical in your attitude, or was it my windy head that blew your words about and got me dancing with love and temper among the bloody buses? ...'

"Ruth was married. She fell in love with Thomas but refused to become his mistress. She found him gentle and vulnerable, inclined to boast in order to prove himself. He talked to her about his childhood. Perhaps he thought he was in love with her. But his letters are uneasy. He gave her the manuscript of a poem, and wrote her one further letter, in September 1943, from Carmarthenshire, sending her 'with all my heart, my love'. He remained very much married to his wife."

One of Ruth's twin daughters recalled that her mother was dreadfully upset when she heard of Dylan Thomas’s death in 1953.