Edited by Jane Aaron, this anthology of Welsh short stories is a great way to access Welsh Writing in English. Honno are a press located in Aberystwyth who specialize in publishing women’s literature and this anthology has been a vital part of recovering little-known or forgotten Welsh women writers and their work.
You only have to scan the author biographies at the back of the book to understand how Welsh women writers have been neglected over the past 200 years. In many cases there has been no republication of the authors work for decades. For example, the short story ‘Mad Moll’s Story’ by Anne Beale has not been published since its original publication in 1849! Bangor University Library actually holds a copy of this publication, battered and falling apart, it is the sad reality and reminder of the legacy of some Welsh writers which needs to be rejuvenated. If it wasn’t for Jane Aaron’s edited collection I would probably never have come across these unique short stories.
In terms of content, you will find themes that are common in the short story genre in general. A form favoured by the outsider and those on the edge of society, the short stories depict women who feel peripheral in their Welsh lives. As the title suggests the women often look across the valley (able to connect with the Welsh landscape) rather than connecting with the people who live in the valleys below. For this reason the stories offer a great insight into the lives of Welsh women from pre- to post-industrial Wales.
If you enjoy this collection I would definitely recommend Honno’s Welsh Women’s Poetry edited by Katie Gramich and Catherine Brennan. This is a ground-breaking bilingual anthology that includes women’s poetry from 1460 to 2001. Both books are vital to the recovery of Welsh writing and a great way to access Welsh Writing in English.