Recent research suggests that Dylan Thomas might not, after all, have drunk himself to death. What his doctor in New York took to be delirium tremens and treated with morphine may have been bronchitis and pneumonia, which morphine injections only made worse – after the third of them, he went into a coma. Still, there's no doubt that Thomas had been drinking heavily in the days leading up to his admission to hospital – indeed for large periods of his life. The previous day he'd opened a bottle of Old Grand-Dad whiskey and offered a glass to the maid cleaning his hotel room. Then, after more drinks with his lover Elizabeth Reitell, he left his bed at 2am and went to a bar, telling her on his return that he had drunk 18 straight whiskies.
Thomas was prone to exaggeration. He once bragged that he had drunk 40 pints of beer, and a character in his Adventures in the Skin Trade claims to have drunk 49 pints of Guinness straight off. According to the bartender who served him that fateful night, Thomas drank only six or at most eight whiskies, not 18. But American measures are twice the size of British ones. And his health had suffered over the years from alcohol and cigarettes: as well as having gout, emphysema and a fatty liver, he was physically exhausted through insomnia. The diagnosis on his admission to St Vincent's, alcoholic encephalopathy, might have been wrong, and with different treatment he might have recovered. But it wasn't as if he hadn't been warned….
Read the Article – Why do writers drink? Blake Morrison, The Guardian, Saturday 20 July 2013
Image used under fair use rationale to depict Dylan Thomas in the Wikipedia article Dylan Thomas. No known free use images are known to exist. Photograph is not replaceable as Thomas died in 1953.