Library of Wales News

  • Dai Smith Lecture on Library of Wales Series 26/09/2012



    Dai Smith
    Dai Smith, Professor in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University and Series Editor of the Library of Wales books, will be discussing the collection in a Newport and Gwent Literary Society lecture on Wednesday 26th September 2012.
    The lecture will consider the aims of the series and the role it is playing in bringing Wales' rich literary heritage to new audiences. Through these texts, until now unavailable or out-of-print, or merely forgotten, the Library of Wales will bring back into play the voices that have expressed the complexity of the Welsh people. The Library of Wales is published by Parthian.   
    Dai Smith is the Library of Wales series editor and Professor in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University. He is the Chair of the Arts Council of Wales.
    This event is supported by Literature Wales
    The lecture takes place at The Holiday Inn in Newport at 6.30pm. Advance booking is essential and tickets are priced £18, which includes dinner.
    For more information on how to book tickets please visit Newport and Gwent Literary Society.
  • Library of Wales enewsletter: August 2012



    The Library of Wales is a Welsh Assembly Government project designed to ensure that all of the rich and extensive literature in Wales that has been written in English will now be made available to readers in and beyond Wales. The series is published by Parthian Books. See the full catalogue at
    Our August enewsletter contains updates on news, events, book launches and special offers on classic titles in the Library of Wales range as well as related titles also published by Parthian Books.
  • Cardiff Students To Study Classic Welsh Writing in English

    New students of English Literature at Cardiff University this year will, for the first time ever, be studying Welsh writing in English alongside works by canonical authors of the English literary tradition such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Charlotte Brontë and Angela Carter.


    A new course entitled ‘Literature, Culture, and Place’ will allow students to explore representations of place in twentieth-century Welsh, Caribbean and African American literature, looking particularly at how place is linked to questions of cultural, ethnic, and racial identity. 


    A key text on the course will be Katie Gramich's brand new translation of Kate Roberts's Feet in Chains. Considered her masterpiece, the classic novel follows the struggle of passionate and headstrong Jane to bring up a family of six children on the pittance earned by her slate-quarrying husband. This sensitive translation remains close to the austere style of Roberts's prose. 


    Spanning the next forty years, the novel traces the contours not only of one vividly evoked Welsh family but of a nation coming to self-consciousness; it begins in the heyday of Methodist fervour and ends in the carnage and disillusionment of the First World War. Through it all, Jane survives, the centre of her world and the inspiration for her children who will grow up determined to change the conditions of these poor people’s lives, to release them forever from their chains. 


    Prof. Katie Gramich, who specialises in rediscovering neglected female authors of Welsh writing in English, said: 


    "There has been a so-called ‘spatial turn’ in literary studies over the past decade, with more and more critics analysing the ways in which writers create a sense of place in their work. This approach opens up questions about the gendering of space, belonging and dislocation, borders and homelands, and colonial encounters.  


    "Our first-year students come to Cardiff from many different countries and regions and, for many, this is their first experience of living in a place which is not ‘home’; the questions raised by this course, then, are likely to be of direct personal relevance and interest to them, while the course also provides an opportunity to discover some of the riches of Welsh writing in English."



    The Welsh texts on the course also include Raymond Williams’s 1960 novel, Border Country, republished in the Library of Wales series; contemporary Cardiff-set novel, The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi (Picador, 2001); poetry by Dylan Thomas, R. S. Thomas, and Gillian Clarke, and short fiction by Alun Lewis. The complementary Caribbean and African American texts include works by Jean Rhys, Caryl Phillips, Nella Larsen, and Toni Morrison.

  • Reading Raymond Williams in 2012: How Re-publishing Rekindled our Interest


    Steve Woodhams' recent essay Reading Raymond Williams in 2012 is now available on the Raymond Williams Foundation website. Part review, part report, Steve asks why the interest in Williams - particularly that of heavily contextualising his writing with letters and rediscovered papers - has revived, and attributes the recent flood of publications on and by Williams with encouraging it.

    Woodhams believes that Williams's biographer, Dai Smith, helped rekindle the interest by building A Warrior's Tale out of 'hitherto unseen letters, diaries, teaching notes, and preciously, notebooks in which were contained Raymond's plans and sketches for an extraordinary journey of work but which showed its integration regardless of type.'  

    The essay focuses in particular on three publications: Border Country, The Long Revolution, and The Volunteers. Border Country and The Volunteers are both included in the Library of Wales series: a series concerned with keeping culturally important Welsh writing available. Steve argues that re-publication of these titles has fuelled interest in a way that previous academic writing had failed to do. He ends his essay with a plea for publication of further work by Williams.

    The recognition of a growing desire for a collective approach, collating information from a variety of sources in order to build a fuller understanding of links between the author's work as a whole, is close to Woodhams' heart. He says 'such "intra-disciplinarily" is perhaps a hallmark of my way of thinking, attempting to see interconnectedness, relations and totality'. Of course in order for readers to access enough material to draw wider conclusions about the work as a whole the work must be available.

    The Raymond William's Collection: A Report, edited by Steve, represents the culmination of long endeavour to make publicly available unpublished manuscripts, notebooks, letters, diaries and papers that the writer Raymond Williams (1921-1988) left in part discarded, even neglected. The Report is available from the Parthian website, priced £5.00.

    The Raymond Williams Papers are housed in Swansea and details can be found on the RW Foundation website at, - where the full copy of Reading Raymond Williams in 2012 is available.

    Steve is an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths. His current research is on South Wales and the Coalfield in particular: including the role of chapels, their relation to adult learning and in turn the relation of that to radical politics. He assisted the Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales (CREW) and the Archivist with assembly of the Raymond Williams Papers, donated by the Raymond Williams Estate.

  • Rachel Trezise reviews All Things Betray Thee by Gwyn Thomas for Planet 206



    All Things Betray Thee

    Gwyn Thomas

    Parthian, Library of Wales, £8.99

    An extract of the review follows:

    "Gwyn Thomas' All Things Betray Thee was a historical novel when it was first published in 1949 as an emblematic account of the 1831 Methyr Rising that occurred a hundred odd years earlier. Now, republished as part of the Library of Wales series, it is even older, but not a shred less significant. [...]"


    "Raymond Williams stated in his foreword that the novel is a connection to the past and the future, though primarily the present, 'that endlessly repeated present in which the issues and choices are personally active. The immediate location is 1835 but the connection is beyond it to: 1986 if we can hear it.' Or the rioting in cities across England in the summer of last year. Or the public sector strikes called in November. Or perhaps the Occupy protest that is ongoing throughout the world. This novel, more than Thomas's others, transmutes the mean, urban streets of industrial villages back into a world where there is a rural peace along valley floors and among mountain tops -- imagining the valleys at the very birth of industrialisation [...] Finally, after almost two centuries of slagheaps and 'Rhondda Grey', the death of industry is upon us, and the mountains are grassy again. Physically, we are almost back to the start. But the economic wasteland that is left and the linguistic schizophrenia caused by anglicisation will continue to be a festering wound. All Things Betray Thee ensures we'll always remember when and how these wounds were first opened."


    Buy All Things Betray Thee from the online Parthian Bookshop for £9.99


    Rachel Tresize is the author of In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl and Fresh Apples, both available from the online Parthian bookshop. Her second collection of short stories will be out through Parthian in 2013.


    Buy Planet 206 from the Planet website and read this review in full.


  • University of Glamorgan lecturer Dr Kevin Mills wins M Wynn Thomas award


    The inaugural M Wynn Thomas Award has been awarded for an essay about the links between passion, song-writing and religion. This significant new award  named in honour of a Swansea University academic to recognise the best critical work the field of Welsh writing in English, has been awarded to University of Glamorgan lecturer Dr Kevin Mills.

    Bedwas-born academic and poet Dr Mills is Reader in English Literature at the University of Glamorgan where he teaches courses in Shakespeare, early modern literature, myth, and hybrid writing.
    His prize-winning essay, ‘Broken Hallelujah’, considers the ways in which history, fiction and journalism depicted the events, processes and characters of the religious revival of 1904-5, interweaving the critical discussion with an account of personal experience and a reading of Leonard Cohen’s song.
    Dr Mills said: “For my work to attract this kind of endorsement from my peers is very gratifying. It makes me feel that I am contributing in a small way to the literary culture of Wales. I’m very pleased that the prize bears the name of M Wynn Thomas; he’s done so much to develop interest in Welsh writing in English.”
    The M Wynn Thomas award was sponsored by Swansea University, Parthian, The Library of Wales and The Learned Society of Wales and is now set to become an annual award.


  • Literature Wales Literary Tourism Programme 2012: Arthur Machen and Brenda Chamberlain











    Parthian Books and Library of Wales are proud to be partnering with Literature Wales to provide two excellent author walks as part of their Literary Tourism Events Programme for 2012, 14 new literary adventures by train, boat, barge and bus, on horseback and on foot.


    1. Arthur Machen in the Usk Valley with Catherine Fisher

    11am - 4pm, Saturday 14 July 2012


    In recent years, in part due to the 2006 film Pan's Labyrinth which was inspired by The Great God Pan (1894), Arthur Machen has developed cult status as one of the great early fantasy fiction writers. Born and bred in Caerleon and the hills in the north, Arthur was directly influenced by the people and places of the Usk Valley, setting scenes and drawing themes from them throughout his literary career.


    We will explore some of these influences through the eyes of Catherine Fisher, local fantasy writer and Wales' Young People's Laureate, and the knowledge of some members of the Friends of Arthur Machen. The walk starts after a brief coach journey and follows a linear route back to Caerleon, ending at Caerleon Arts Festival Field.


    Start: Ye Olde Bull Inn Car Park, High Street, Caerleon, Newport, NP18 1AE

    Finish: Caerleon Arts Festival, Hanbury Field, Uskside, Caerleon, Newport, NP18 1AA

    Ticket price: £7

    Food/Drink provision: Not included - bring a packed lunch & flask; Tea/coffee & cake included afterwards.

    Recommended clothing: Walking boots; Waterproofs; Warm layers; Suncream (if relevant).

    Difficulty: Moderate, 5.5 miles

    Not suitable for: pets, wheelchair access or children under 12 years of age.



    2. Brenda Chamberlain's Bangor and Beyond with Jill Piercy and Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, 2pm - 5pm, Saturday 20 October 2012


    Writer and artist Brenda Chamberlain (1912-1971) was born and raised in Bangor; moving to Llanllechid, Germany, Bardsey Island and Hydra, Greece before returning to Bangor in 1967. Wherever she lived, she wrote, painted and kept illustrated journals. She published three novels, a poetry collection and an account of her role in the creation of the Caseg Broadsheets with Alun Lewis, which featured poems by themselves, Dylan Thomas and Lynette Roberts.


    Jill Piecy and Dr Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan will lead a walk around Bangor, followed by a short bus tour to the Bethesda area where she lived when first married. The afternoon will end with the launch of Brenda Chamberlain - A Life (Parthian, 2012) by Jill Piercy, generously hosted by Bangor University.


    In partnership with Literature Wales, Parthian Books, Bangor University and Pontio.


    Start: Gwynedd Museum & Art Gallery, Fford Gwynedd, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1DT

    Finish: School of English, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG

    Ticket price: £8 (£7)

    Food/Drink provision: Light refreshments included

    Recommended clothing: Comfortable footwear; WaterproofS; Warm layers.


    Difficulty: Moderate, 1.5 miles

    Not suitable for: pets, wheelchair access or children under 16 years of age.


    For more information on all 14 of the Literary Tourism Events on Literature Wales' April - October 2012 Programme visit:


  • Dannie Abse Brings Jewish Twist to Wales


    Dannie Abse
    Though “What will survive of us is love” comes from his captious contemporary, Philip Larkin, the line might stand for the life and career of Welsh-Jewish poet Dannie Abse. Having turned 88 last September, Abse was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, in the 2012 New Year Honours, “for services to poetry and literature.” With a new collection, “In Extra Time,” out in April from London’s Enitharmon Press, as well as a January reprint of his enchanting anthology, “Ode to Love: 100 Poems of Love & Lust,” from Portico Publishing, Abse is a benevolently omnipresent caregiver in verse, an appropriate status given his longtime day job as a pulmonologist at a chest clinic in London.
    Dannie Abse at Hay Festival 2012
    The great Welsh and Jewish poet and doctor Dannie Abse will be in coversation with Dai Smith, discussing his remarkable autobiography Goodbye Twentieth Century at Hay Festival on Thursday 7 June 2012. 
    Visit the festival's event page to book tickets:
  • Jon Gower's Library of Wales Reading Challenge


    Hay International Fellow Jon Gower has set himself a New Year challenge to read all of the titles currently published by the Library of Wales.  With a total of 33 books, from the best-selling novels such as Raymond Williams' Border Country to newly-discovered literary gems such as Margiad Evans' Turf or Stone, this series has something for everyone. Gower will begin his challenge, symbolically, on 1st of March 2012 - both World Book Day and St David's Day.
    The author and cultural commentator is hoping to complete the Library of Wales series in one year: "I've already read quite a few of the volumes in this marvellous collection, but, being a completist, I thought I'd like to read the whole lot.  It'll give me a chance to reassess some of my all time favourites such as Raymond Williams' Border Country and also, hopefully, discover a good many new books to enthuse about.  The Library of Wales is a great idea, beautifully packaged.  It sheds new light on neglected books, bringing them back onto the book shelf.  But up there they're worth nothing, they're just decorating a room. They have to be read to mean anything."
    Gower will be blogging about each of the titles as he progresses through the Reading Challenge. Read his Reading Challenge blog for the latest updates.
  • All 33 Library of Wales titles are now available as a limited edition pack


    Limited edition packs including the full 33 titles of the Library of Wales Series are now available in the Parthian online bookshop.


    The Library of Wales is a landmark series of books representing the best of Welsh writing in English, bringing classics of  Welsh literature to the general reader.


    ‘One of the best things we’ve supported as a government’ Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan.


    This is the chance to buy a complete set of the Library of Wales series - a total of 33 titles - for £275.00. From the best-selling novels such as Raymond Williams' Border Country to newly-discovered literary gems such as Margiad Evans' Turf or Stone, this series has something for everyone. For an even luckier few, the first limited edition packs sold will include a rare hardback edition signed copy of Goodbye, Twentieth Century by Dannie Abse. Only 200 copies of this book were printed.


    Includes the three new Library of Wales titles Goodbye Twentieth Century, a humorous and poignant autobiography from Dannie Abse, compelling political thriller The Volunteers by Raymond Williams; and Gwyn Thomas' turbulent South Wales uprisings in All Things Betray Thee, along with Ron Berry, So Long Hector Bebb; Raymond Williams, Border Country, Gwyn Thomas, The Dark PhilosophersCwmardy & We Live, Lewis Jones; Country Dance, Margiad Evans; A Man's Estate, Emyr Humphreys; In The Green Tree, Alun Lewis; Alun Richards, Home To An Empty HouseAsh on a Young Man's Sleeve, Dannie Abse; Poetry 1900-2000, Meic Stephens ed.; Sport, Gareth Williams ed.; Rhapsody, Dorothy Edwards; Jampot Smith, Jeremy Brooks; Voices of the Children, George Ewart Evans; I Sent a Letter to My Love, Bernice Rubens; Congratulate the Devil, Howell Davies; The Heyday in the Blood, Geraint Goodwin; Alone to the Alone, Gwyn Thomas; The Caves of Alienation, Stuart Evans; A Rope of Vines, Brenda Chamberlain; Black Parade, Jack Jones; Dai Country, Alun Richards; The Valley, The City, The Village, Glyn Jones; The Great God Pan, Arthur Machen; The Hill of Dreams, Arthur Machen; The Battle to the Weak, Hilda Vaughan; Turf or Stone, Margiad Evans.

Translate Into...

English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish