Thomas married his fiery wife Caitlin in 1937. According to the BBC, "Dylan was drawn to Caitlin's experience and wild abandon; she to his literary talent. But their marriage was to become strained by lack of money, and was tainted by infidelity on both sides....Both Dylan and Caitlin had affairs throughout their marriage, and each resented the other's while excusing their own behaviour."
Thomas had very little financial ability and although he made three trips to America for the purpose of making money from speaking tours, he blew the cash on drunken binges before he returned. He loved the parties thrown in his honor and enjoyed being treated as a poet celebrity.
The BBC says:
His outrageous behaviour at these events suggests he was eager to prove himself as a poet and was excessive due to nervousness. [On his final American tour in 1953,] Dylan got drunk and fractured his arm after falling down some stairs on his way to the theatre. There, he was thrown out of a performance of The Crucible for causing a disturbance during the play. During a recording session soon after, fellow performers were alarmed by his bloated appearance and inability to read lines from a script.
The photo above is of a bloated Thomas near the end of his life. The BBC continues:
On Tuesday 3 November  he spent most of the day in bed, drinking beer and whiskey in the company of friends. Later on he went out to keep two drinks appointments, but returned to the Chelsea in the mid-evening where he apparently had a breakdown. At two o'clock the following morning he left the hotel for an hour and a half, stating he needed a drink. On his return he uttered the words to [his female companion Elizabeth] Reitell which have become part of the Dylan Thomas legend: "I've had 18 straight whiskies. I think that's the record".He died six days later on November 9, 1953.
Eighteen straight whiskies. Had to be an exaggeration, don't you think? Poets, artists, novelists... they all lie about themselves. I'm not sure why. Dylan sometimes told people he had cirrhosis of the liver. His autopsy, however, showed little sign of that illness Whatever kind of person he was, Thomas was a great poet, some say the greatest of the 20th century. Does his art excuse his loutish behavior? It's a question that makes me uncomfortable. I always think of the ones whose lives are the wreckage left in the wake of such an artist. If I were one of the children, I probably would have preferred a normal Dad. Not a superstar poet/drunken lout.
One of my favorite Dylan poems is this one, "In My Craft or Sullen Art." It's an explanation of why poets do what they do. Or is it? Perhaps it's also a lament that the ones he writes for, "the lovers" (that would be pretty much all of us wouldn't it?) pay no heed to what he does. Most of us bloggers aren't poets, but I think we can understand his writing predicament.
Here's a youtube of the poem which uses Thomas' actual voice. It is a very special voice. Dramatic. Almost musical in its subtle rhythms. No one else reads poetry like Dylan Thomas.
In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.