“Every reader of the The Volunteers can testify to its power and pace as a detective thriller.” Tony Pinkey
About the author:
Brenda Chamberlain (1912-1971) was an outstanding artist and writer of prose and poetry who was born in Bangor, north Wales. After studying at the Royal Academy Schools in London, she returned to Wales with the artist John Petts. During her lifetime, she twice won the Gold Medal in Fine Art at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, held seven solo exhibitions in London and Wales and her work was seen in over 30 group shows.
To mark the centenary year of the brilliant Welsh artist and writer, from September onwards, Parthian will be publishing a series of works by and about Brenda: beginning with the first full-length biography, Brenda Chamberlain: An Artist’s Life by Jill Piercy; a Library of Wales edition of Brenda’s The Water Castle; and her play The Protagonists, edited by Damian Walford Davies.
Brenda Chamberlain: An Artist’s Life is a biography by Jill Piercy. Jill is an exhibition curator, consultant and writer specialising in contemporary art and craft in Wales. She has written for numerous publications and has prepared catalogue essays for many galleries in Wales. For six years she was the Art and Craft Officer for the National Eisteddfod of Wales and has curated work for many galleries in Wales, Europe and USA. Jill curated three exhibitions of work by Brenda Chamberlain in 1988, 2007 and 2008.
Jill will be talking about An Artist's Life at PENfro festival. The festival runs on Saturday and Sunday, September 15th and 16th 2012 at Rhosygilwen, Rhoshill, Pembrokeshire, SA43 2TW.
Brenda Chamberlain's The Water-castle is a journal of love and discord in post-war Germany as a Welsh woman travels with her French husband to meet her former lover, a German count. First published in 1964, the book will be republished this November as part of the Library of Wales series, our landmark series of books representing the best of Welsh writing in English, bringing classics of Welsh literature to the general reader.
And, finally, October sees the publication of The Protagonists, a play written by Brenda, edited by Damian Walford Davies.
Also join us on Saturday 20 October (2.00 pm - 5.00 pm) for our walk in association with the 2012 Literature Wales Literary Tourism programme: Brenda Chamberlain's Bangor and Beyond with Jill Piercy. £8 (£7 concession).
We anticipate exciting events later in the year to mark the centenary, launch the new titles and celebrate Brenda’s work. Further details on the titles and events to follow!
All Things Betray Thee
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."
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.
When the man she was having a love affair with was charged with murder of a tourist Brenda Chamberlain fled to a convent on the far side of the island of Hydra. It is one of the incidents caught in her record of seven years of island life in the 1950s now republished in the Library of Wales series.
Writer and publisher Lewis Davies climbs the island paths.
This morning I climbed the track up mountain to the convent. On the way up I stopped to talk to a man labouring on the construction of a new paved footpath up through the pines. He has worked in London in a restaurant while studying art at Goldsmiths College . He has work in a gallery in Piraeus but not here in Hydra. “It is difficult here, difficult to make a living, which is why I’m building this path.” He offers to show me some of his work. I am to meet him in his cousin’s bar this evening. “I will show you some work.”
The afternoon is cooling now and thick clouds rise above the mountains of the Peloponnese to the west. It is still warm enough to sit out on the terrace in a pair of shorts and write postcards. Hydra climbs up the hill from the harbour, much as Brenda Chamberlain described it in A Rope of Vines Journal from a Greek Island. More houses now probably, and boutiques on the front selling jewellery and art – but maybe they had boutiques in the 1950s here too.
Brenda Chamberlain arrived here in the early 1950’s fleeing an unhappy relationship and the failed fleeting promises of the art world. She was no stranger to islands having spent the previous seven years living on Ynys Enlli (Bardsey) at the end of the Llyn peninsular. She was an artist and a writer, her work had won awards and critical praise but she was still searching, perhaps looking for a place where she could settle for a few years, find a way through life.
It is the words that she wrote on these island exiles which draw me here. I remember being entranced by the magic realism of her work in Tide-Race. And it is the colours of her work in paintings on Bardsey which stand out, deep bold reds and blues, the self-portrayal of her and her French artist lover on a fishing boat, physicality and perception. On Hydra it is as if the shear force of sun bleached the colours from her work. She turned to work in pencil, stark, vivid line drawings. She drew Venetian houses, dark priests on donkeys, a cat sprawled on a terrace, a wine jug on a balcony.
And in the same time and space she kept a journal. The writing is spare, deliberately trying to capture the hard, sun shaped character of Hydra. She is trying to write herself into the island. She becomes involved with an islander who is charged with the murder of a tourist. She flees to the convent and the nuns offer her sanctuary. She writes as if it is an exile of years but she will only stay for a few days. The story is elliptical and never quite as true as it sounds.
The rooftops are tiled and still. There was a cockerel crowing earlier and this morning the disconcerting braying of donkeys carrying overweight tourists around the streets. I buy a bottle of cheap wine in a plastic bottle from the supermarket – four euros for one and half litres. It helps writing the postcards.
Lewis Davies is a writer, playwright and publisher. His most recent book is Love and Other Possibilities.
Brenda Chamberlain’s work on Hydra A Rope of Vines Journal from a Greek Island is available as part of the Library of Wales series.
A biography of Brenda Chamberlain: Artist and Writer by Jill Piercy will be published in 2012. Literature Wales will also be running a Literary Tour on Brenda in Autumn 2012.