How Green Was Your Valley? Broadening the Horizons of Anglophone Wales

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It wasn’t until the influence of heavy industry in the South Wales Valleys that English language fiction really developed into what we consider Welsh Writing in English today. A variety of factors including the development of English language education, immigration and the effects of industrialisation led to an upsurge in English language writing.

Many writers who form the basic canon of WWiE came from this first wave of writers in the 1930s. Although writers like Dylan Thomas and Gwyn Thomas spoke Welsh at home, it was English that was taught in school and the language in which they choose to express their experiences of Wales.

As the Welsh valleys experienced sudden anglicanisation, a variety of writers emerged telling stories of life in the mining communities of South Wales. Richard Llewellyn’s How Green Was My Valley (1939) became the ‘exportable’ version of Wales sold all over the world – seen in the success of the book’s 1941 film adaptation. These visions of Wales defined early perceptions of Welsh Writing in English – Llewellyn’s depiction of Gilfach Goch was for many non-Welsh readers the only English-speaking Wales they had encountered in text or on-screen.

These images of Anglophone Wales are important to understanding the country’s industrial history, yet through my blog posts I aim to write about lesser-known authors of WWiE – those who have been marginalised, particularity women writers who have been neglected but whose work has much to say about Welsh experience.