At 6pm on Wednesday, 26th March, Parthian Books and the Library of Wales launched Story, a two-volume anthology that boasts an unsurpassed selection of the very best Welsh fiction from the last one hundred years. The launch took place at Swansea University's Singleton Abbey, where Professor John Spurr from Swansea University talked about the significance of the Library of Wales series for education and research on Welsh identity. Afterwards, the anthology’s editor, Dai Smith, gave an introduction to the two volume series. In his introduction, he explained that, in selecting eighty-four short stories written by well-known Welsh writers such as Dylan Thomas, Rhys Davies, Gwyn Thomas and Leonora Brito, he had attempted to compile a collection of works by English-speaking writers which enable the readers to understand what it was and is like to live in Wales. After Dai Smith’s talk, three authors – Stevie Davies, George Brinley Evans and Rachel Trezise – read excerpts from their short stories.
Have a look at the following pictures from the book launch taken by Jo Mazelis.
As has been previously revealed, the two volumes which comprise the Library of Wales Story anthology are to be released on March 26th, 2014. The volumes, which between them span 1200 pages and feature over eighty stories by a myriad of authors, make up the most comprehensive collection of Welsh fiction in English ever released.
We can now confirm that the launch event will take place at 6pm in the Abbey building in Swansea University, Singleton. The collection will be introduced by series editor Dai Smith, before several stories from both volumes will be read by their original authors, including Rachel Trezise, Stevie Davies and George Brinley Evans. Drinks and nibbles will be available at the reception, as will copies of the anthology, which retail at £14.99 each. However, as a special prepublication offer, we are offering a bundle of both volumes which will retail exclusively at the launch and on the Parthian Books website at £20.
The sun finally seems to have got its act in gear and reared its coruscating head, banishing the gloom that has hung over South Wales and beyond for many a month. So for all you purveyors of literature hitting the beach, outdoor café tables or other clichéd libraries-outside-of-libraries, look no further over the coming days than the following digital offers to stock your e-reader's virtual shelves full of quality Welsh fiction! Indeed, the Library of Wales has reduced its entire digital lineup to £2.99 or under, meaning that you will be able to get classics such as Arthur Machen's The Hill of Dreams, W. H. Davies' The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp and Raymond Williams' Border Country for next to nothing! However, why stop at next to nothing? Indeed, you'll also be able to get two titles absolutely free – Dorothy Edwards' Rhapsody and Dai Country by Alun Richards.
Rhapsody by Dorothy Edwards
A remarkably talented writer who tragically died by throwing herself under a train at the age of 31 in 1934, Dorothy Edwards contributed much to Anglo-Welsh literature through both this collection (1927) and her lone novel Winter Sonata, published in 1928. She was born in 1903 in Ogmore Vale, a small mining community in Mid Glamorgan. She took a degree at Cardiff University in Greek and philosophy, but literature was her passion and soon after graduating her short stories began to appear in magazines and journals. These were collected in Rhapsody, along with several previously unpublished stories written during the nine months Edwards spent in Vienna and Florence. Winter Sonata followed shortly afterwards. She spent the following years trying to supplement her mother’s meagre pension by writing stories and articles for magazines and newspapers, and doing some extra-mural teaching at Cardiff University, but she never undertook full-time employment. She died in 1934. Her suicide note read: ‘I am killing myself because I have never sincerely loved any human being all my life. I have accepted kindness and friendship and even love without gratitude, and given nothing in return.’
Synopsis: A collection of short stories from English and American magazines, by the Cardiff born author, first published in 1927. The pieces are distinctive in voice and sensibility.
The ten stories of Rhapsody, together with the three previously uncollected pieces added to this edition, are utterly distinctive in voice and sensibility. At least three of the Rhapsody stories – 'A Country House', 'Days', and the brilliant, allusive and enigmatic 'A Garland of Earth' – are small masterpieces. Not bad by the age of twenty-four. All of them are extremely controlled studies of constrained desire, loneliness and incomplete relationships for which Edwards was developing a non-realist world of imagery and symbolism and her own language. Music is one of the motifs. For Edwards, music represents art, but also the possibility of sexual passion which is otherwise largely unstated but is everywhere a powerful undercurrent.
Review: Rhapsody is a collection of ten truly exquisite short stories...It is a rare pleasure to read such a fine collection, in which each story is a self-contained masterpiece that also builds and draws upon its predecessors to create a greater whole that reaches its consummation in the final story...Edwards’s prose style and use of language are deceptively simple and skillfully lead the reader to contemplate what is not being said, the secrets that lie behind the surface. Her stories are sad and beautiful and highly enigmatic; they are to be read slowly and to be savoured...Using music, literature and nature as connecting forces, Edwards captures the way in which people move towards and away from each other, the tentativeness and fragility of human relationships. Many of her stories have a mythical or fairy-tale quality about them...Edwards’s stories narrow the divide between pain and beauty and show how they can be one and the same. – Suzy Ceulan Hughes (A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.)
The ten stories that make up Rhapsody...are undoubtedly fine works, taut and elegantly wrought narratives with never a single word wasted. – Jon Gower (Wales Arts Review)
Dai Country by Alun Richards
Alun Richards was born in 1929 in Pontypridd. After spells as a schoolteacher, probation officer and as an instructor in the Royal Navy, from the 1960s he was, and successfully so, a full-time writer. He lived near the Mumbles, close to the sea which, coupled with the hills of the South Wales Valleys, was the landscape of his fiction. Alongside plays for stage and radio, screenplays and adaptations for television, a biography and a memoir, he wrote six novels and two collections of short stories, Dai Country (1973) and The Former Miss Merthyr Tydfil (1976). As editor, he produced bestselling editions of Welsh short stories and tales of the sea for Penguin. He died in 2004.
Synopsis: At the heart of Dai Country - the central valleys of twentieth-century South Wales from the 1930s to the 1970s - was the metropolis of Pontypridd, and it is from this vantage point in time and space that Alun Richards casts his baleful eye on the personal relationships and social ambitions of the inhabitants of this much-fabled country. In this compendium volume, the best of his short stories, as funny and savage as they are scathing and compassionate, are combined with his entrancing autobiographical memoir Days of Absence to take us to the core of those incomparable valleys, with their lived experience stripped bare for once of their usual cloak of cliché and sentiment.
Review: It’s a judicious selection, offering a taste of Richards’ writing that will undoubtedly lead many readers to seek out more of his work...Some of the recollections are vivid and compelling, and the whole is suffused with his deep affection for his hometown of Pontypridd and with a sense of belonging, rootedness and identity...This looking back, this seeing first through the eyes of youth or innocence and then again through the lens of maturity and experience, is a stylistic device that Richards uses to consummate effect in his stories, giving his characters a complexity and emotional depth that are quite extraordinary...Working on many levels, Richards’ stories and characters linger long in the mind. – Suzy Ceulan Hughes (A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.)
All these titles can be downloaded from a variety of webstores, including Amazon, Waterstones, Gwales and Kobo. The price changes mentioned above should come into effect around Wednesday, April 12th.
These offers will run throughout summer, and we will be adding more titles throughout April and May, so keep checking back!
Launching on March 26th, 2014 are two new additions to the Library of Wales' formidable arsenal: Story, Volumes I and II, two short story anthologies which possess an unsurpassed compliation of Anglo-Welsh tales spanning the whole of the 20th century and beyond, from the dawn of the 1900s and the First World War all the way through to the contemporary, post-industrial valleys of the 2000s, via the Second World War and the tumultuous Miners' Strikes of the Eighties.
Edited by series regular Dai Smith, the collections feature a peerless selection of over 80 stories drawn from a staggering array of talent, including both past legends, such as Arthur Machen, Alun Richards and Dylan Thomas, and the modern day's most acclaimed, including Rachel Trezise, Lewis Davies and Stevie Davies. Stories range from Arthur Machen’s 'The Gift of Tongues', Rhys Davies’ 'The Dark World' and Caradoc Evans’ 'The Coffin', to Leonora Brito’s 'Dat’s Love', Gee Williams’ 'Blood Etc.' and Rachel Trezise’s 'Fresh Apples'... While along the way we have everything from the fields of Ynys Mon to the bars of Barcelona in a thought provoking and highly entertaining selection.
Specific details regarding the launch are to be confirmed, but we can confirm it will take place at Swansea University on Wednesday, 26th March, 2014. More information will be circulated when we know it, so watch this space!
The Library of Wales is known for publishing quality Welsh writing in English and within this scope, we have a few horror titles up our sleeve!
So, to get you in the mood for All Hallows Eve, here are a few of our favourite horror titles:
Margiad Evans' gothic extravaganzas:
A gothic tale of passion, violence, cruelty and unexpected tenderness. In this her third novel, Margiad Evans conjures a tempestuous and sometimes sinister world of rural and small town border life in early twentieth century.
Also available as an eBook from online retailers.
Country Dance - known as 'The Welsh Wuthering Heights'.
At the heart of Country Dance is Ann Goodman, a young woman torn by ‘the struggle for supremacy in her mixed blood’, Welsh and English. In this story of passion and murder set in the border country, the rural way of life is no idyll but a hard battle for survival.
Also available as an eBook from online retailers.
Written with terse incisive power... the novels of Margiad Evans glow with a dark... passionate light. - Derek Savage
Congratulate the Devil is a delightful comic novel by forgotten Welsh fantasy writer Howell Davies. Rescued from obscurity by the Library of Wales this amusing tale of mind control proves to be something of a lost gem.- Babylon Wales
One of the best horror stories ever written. Maybe the best in the English language - Stephen King
One of the best horror writers ever - Mark E. Smith
An exciting opportunity has arrived for students to get involved with the Library of Wales series.
To win a cash prize and Library of Wales book tokens, all you have to do is write a review about what you like (or didn't like) about a title in the series.
The university competition will be judged by Dr Kirsti Bohata, who specialises in Welsh writing in English.
The secondary competition will be judged by Mr Ravi Pawar, Headteacher of Blackwood Comprehensive School.
The most important thing to remember is not to be afraid to say what you think about the book! Be honest.
'M. Wynn Thomas has been the brilliant yet unassuming doyen of literary criticism in Wales for several decades now, so it's fitting that this generous prize for new work in the field should bear his name and the prestige that goes with it’. Dr Katie Gramich, Cardiff University