Book of Poems Given by Dylan Thomas to Irish Broadcaster for Sale at Bonhams

A copy of 18 Poems by Dylan Thomas presented by the poet to the famous Northern Irish broadcaster and novelist, Sam Hanna Bell, is to be sold at Bonhams sale of Fine Books, Atlases, Manuscripts and Photographs in London on 12 November. It is estimated at £1,500-2,500.

Born in Glasgow in 1909, Sam Hanna Bell moved to County Down at the age of seven following the death of his father.  By 1921 he was living in Belfast working as a manual labourer while trying to build a literary career.  In 1945 he was recruited to work for the BBC by the Irish poet Louis MacNeice who also recruited Bell’s fellow writer W.R. Rodgers. MacNeice was a close friend and drinking companion of Dylan Thomas and the four men were also connected by their association with the BBC Third Programme (now Radio Three).  18 Poems is inscribed “for Sam Hanna Bell from Dylan Thomas 1950”. Originally published in 1934, it was the poet’s first book and was reprinted in 1942.  It is a copy of this second edition which Thomas inscribed for Bell.

Bell’s best known novel, December Bride was published in 1951 to great acclaim and is still highly regarded by readers and critics today. A film adaptation in 1990 won the novel new admirers. The book’s main theme of Ulster rural life is echoed in Bell’s famous and innovative radio feature of 1949, An Ulster Journey, which used music, poetry and narration to paint a picture of the daily lives of ordinary people in the Province.
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