David’s new book offers new theory on Welsh poet Dylan Thomas

Dr David Sands at the house where Dylan Thomas was born
Dr David Sands at the house where Dylan Thomas was born

Dylan Thomas has often been hailed as one of Wales’ greatest poets.

Much has been written about him since he died in 1953, but a Heapey author may be the first to put forward a new theory.

Dr David Sands has enjoyed Thomas’ work since he was a youngster and wanted to put together a book of poetry and photographs related to him.

He visited his birthplace in Swansea and his home, the Boat House, in the Welsh village of Laugharne.

He said: “He was my favourite poet when I was at school. My English prize in my last year at school was his collection of poems.

“I had an English teacher who had a passion for him as well and it must have been projected onto me.”

David, of Blackburn Road, Heapey, works as an animal behaviourist and became particularly interested in Thomas’ behaviour during his research.

He said: “Over the last three years, what was going to be an essay in a photography and poetry book became an interesting area of research.

“I got all the biographies and looked at all the analysis and research and it struck me that some of his behaviour was very odd.”

David believes that Thomas had synaesthesia, a condition where the senses “merge” - for example people experience colour when they hear sounds or read words.

He said: “Synaesthesia came to me towards the end because it suddenly started to make sense, along with the fact that he could have been mildly autistic.”

David put together a book, Dylan Thomas Made Genius, which went on sale in hardback last month.

He said: “I have fallen on something that no-one has touched on before and might explain some of his more outstanding creativity.”

In his book, David writes about his trips to Wales and his research, how he came across his theory, his own childhood and similarities to Thomas’ life.

Also featured are photographs from the Chorley area, including a cross at St Barnabas’ Church, Heapey, and six of his own poems, inspired by Thomas’ work.

Last week he posted copies of the book bought by Hannah Ellis, Thomas’ granddaughter who is now president of the Dylan Thomas Society, and by the Library of Wales.

David’s book is considered controversial and his claims have already been reported in Welsh newspapers.

He said: “Not everyone will agree with me and I’m waiting for the flack.”

He continued: “Some people will take it as an insult, but I don’t mean it that way.

“I think it made him a great character.”

It is not the first book David has written - in 1988, The Best Blue was published, which was a collection of poems and photographs of clouds.

David, who is married to Catherine and has several grandchildren, said: “The Best Blue was produced because the Met Office were using my photographs on television and they sponsored some photography exhibitions I did.

“Even now, they use my pictures of cloud formations.

“I have been photographing for 40 years.”

He has also written a host of books about animals as part of his work as an animal behaviourist.

Among them are Know Your Dog, which was translated into more than 10 languages, and Cats 500 Questions Answered, which is in 20 languages.

David’s work sees him helping pet owners combat unwanted behaviour in dogs, cats, large tropical birds, horses and a range of exotic animals.

He is also an expert witness in dangerous dog court cases and has been called up to assess the dog or give an opinion if it has been destroyed.

And he has appeared on several television programmes and radio shows to talk about animals.

Those unfamiliar with the name Dr David Sands may know him in another guise - Dogman.

David said: “I’m a singer-songwriter and they call me Dogman because of my work.

“It’s a bit of an insult, but it’s the name given to me by Starsailor. I used to go to gigs with them as a fan and friend.

“They used to say, ‘It’s the dog man’ because of my work.”

David sings and plays guitar and has been performing around Chorley and further afield, both in bands and as a solo artist, since 1971.

He also played at a hotel in Laugharne where Thomas used to drink, while carrying out his research.

David said: “I like to do intimate gigs now because my songs, like Home Fire and It’s A Love Thing, are personal story-type songs.

“They call me the English Neil Young.”

David already has plenty of things to fill his time but after finishing his book about Thomas, he is not planning to put his feet up.

“I’m working on two mini books, Kindle-type books, that give people step-by-step advice on very specific issues,” he said.

“One is on the ADHD dog and I’m just finishing one on separation anxiety in dogs and there will be a cat one next.

“For a big project, I don’t know what I will do next. I will see what comes along.

“My wife has had to put up with a lot with the Dylan Thomas book. We have had a couple of enjoyable trips to south Wales and stayed in a boutique hotel, but she has had to put up with 40 rewrites and all the stuff that comes with it.

“I should probably take a break. I will see how this book does.”

Dylan Thomas Made Genius is now available from Amazon, with the paperback due to the published next month.