View all news

'Pouring water on troubled oil': Dylan Thomas in Iran

8 February 2018

Nariman Massoumi's latest article on Dylan Thomas in Iran for Underline Magazine

Underline Magazine, Issue 2, Feb 2018

by Nariman Massoumi

Commissioned by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to work on a promotional film, the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas travelled to Iran in 1951. The project was never completed as planned and no script has ever been located, but Thomas’s letters vividly describe what he encountered abroad. 

On 9th January 1951, in the midst of an ensuing oil crisis between Britain and Iran, Dylan Thomas landed in Tehran, accompanied by the filmmaker Ralph (‘Bunny’) Keene. His assignment was to write a film script for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC).

Little is known about this episode in Thomas’s life, other than what he describes in his letters and the scattered evidence in various archives. Nevertheless, these traces of his visit offer an intriguing and distinctive perspective on Iran during this period, one that lies in contrast to the narrative peddled by the oil company itself.

Some might question why the AIOC would ever consider the Welsh bard, known for his excessive drinking and unpredictable behaviour, as a suitable choice for scripting a film promoting their activities in Iran; not least during such a pivotal moment of social upheaval.

Full article available here

Edit this page