Welsh poet, translator, and painter Vernon Watkins was born in Maesteg, Wales, in 1906. He studied at Repton School and Magdalene College, Cambridge University before taking a job at a bank in Cardiff. In 1935, he befriended Dylan Thomas, who become a lifelong reader and friend. Thomas later described Watkins as “the most profound and greatly accomplished Welshman writing poems in English.”
In World War II, Watkins was part of the cryptography team that broke the Nazi’s Enigma code. He was associated loosely with the New Apocalypse movement, and his work is now known for its traditional forms, metric innovations, and invocation of Welsh history and mythology. His volumes of poetry include The Ballad of the Mari Lwyd (1941), The Lamp and the Veil (1945), The Lady with the Unicorn (1948), The Death Bell (1954), Cypress and Acacia (1959), Affinities (1962), and Fidelities (1968).
Watkins was awarded a Levinson Prize, a Guinness Poetry Prize, and an honorary degree from the University of Wales. He died in 1967.