To view stunning photographs of breathtaking scenery and villages around Wales which inspired Welsh authors, poets and artists to create their world-famous works, I can highly recommend Visit Wales “The word trail: 8 journeys through Welsh literary landscapes” website—
Creatives, some well-known, some not so, feature on the list including my favourite Dylan Thomas, who spent his final years in Laugharne, where he lived in a boathouse down on the estuary.
Read about contemporary poet Gillian Clarke (I have already downloaded her “Collected Poems”) and Medieval European poet Dafydd ap Gwilym (14th century) who was born into a noble family in the parish of Llanbadarn.
Kate Roberts, hailed as “Brenhines ein Llên” (Queen of Our Literature) chronicled the lives of slate workers. The South Wales coalfields attracted thousands of migrant workers, but the North Wales slate mines were almost exclusively worked by Welsh-speaking local men, which had a major influence on cultural life. Yet it was a woman – Kate Roberts (Caernarfonshire 1891-1985) – who was the greatest chronicler of the lives of men, women and children in the slate-producing north.
It’s March and that means Wales Readathon time! Book Jotter has launched this exciting yearly event with an eye-opening post featuring a Royal Welsh Fusiliers regimental mascot, a Great Orme goat named Fusilier Shenkin IV. You can read his life story and details on #dewithon21 in the following post… oh, and perhaps join us as we Read Wales…
Dewithon is an opportunity for book bloggers around the world to discover Welsh writers and their works (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, in fact anything written in English or Welsh with links to the nation of Wales).
We will begin our 31 days of celebration on Monday 1st March 2021 (St. David’s Day), with an official page appearing thereafter to display all your Dewithon-related posts. There are plenty of useful links and reading suggestions at DHQ (Dewithon Headquarters) and in our Wales Readathon Library, but please do not hesitate to ask for help if you are struggling to get started. You are free to read and write on any literary subject relating to Wales, so please dechrau darllen (start reading)!
Dewithon With a Difference
It became apparent quite recently that some members of our global book blogging community were having difficulties obtaining certain UK…
A young narrator recounts the village life of Bethesda in Wales where he is growing up with his ailing Mam, best friends Huw and Moi, and an assortment of idiosyncratic people. Set during the first World War and translated from the original Welsh, I found this classic novel hypnotic, one happenstance rolling into the next with lyrical prose and stunning imagery.
A calm Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia, North Wales, UK Photo (above) byRhys KentishonUnsplash
The boy’s awareness of adult behaviour is both naïve and heart-wrenching, as well as unsettling for a reader like me. He has several graphic encounters, from death to mental illness, told without prejudice or judgement, and his stream-of-consciousness narrative remains strong. One thing the boy is absolutely certain of—he will not work in the slate quarry.
Turn of the century Bethesda, Wales, UK
Modern day Bethesda, Wales, UK
Looking back as an adult, I recall feeling distanced from what was really going on. This boy is in the thick of things and Prichard captures his thoughts so beautifully for adult readers. Some chapters brought tears to my eyes. In chapter 4, my favourite paragraphs are when the boy awakens after a picnic. He feels the desolation of being left behind and desperately tries to find his way home. I remember that type of heart-thumping experience!
A great description‘It was raining stair rods in the morning and I was sitting in school with wet feet cos my shoes leaked’ and in search of dry socks, he discovers a dead body. The quest to find out what happened is revealed in chatter between the boy and Huw. Further into the book, disaster strikes with three significantly life-changing farewells.
Often a bad experience is offset by a good one; a kind gesture (usually a slice of bread) parish humour, the choir, a football match, and rollicking outdoor adventures with school friends which paint a beautiful picture of his part of Wales.
It’s never defined but I think author Caradog Prichard is reliving his early life, factual elements blending with history and mystery. These days it would probably be described drily as ‘social commentary’.
Modern writers would do well to study this slim volume. Roaming in the grown-up world of teachers, priests, policemen and illness, the boy is observant but has no power of his own and that simplicity transcends time and place. He is the epitome of first-person POV, surrounded by subtext which packs a thoughtfully aimed punch.
From a man who knew what he was writing about, ‘One Moonlit Night’ (‘Un Nos Ola Leuad’) is a fine example of storytelling.
PRICHARD, CARADOG (1904-1980) journalist, novelist and poet from Wales UK.
I can recommend the author biography by Menna Baines on National Library of Wales website. Apart from a detailed look at Prichard, it contains photos of the author at home with his dog.
Menna Baines documented his life’s work, and at one point says ‘He published a collection of short stories, Y Genod yn ein Bywyd (‘The Girls in Our Life’ 1964); being heavily autobiographical, they cast some interesting light on his life…”