Brenda Chamberlain and the Caseg Broadsheets

2012 saw the centenary celebrations of Brenda Chamberlain. Born in 1912, Brenda was brought up in Bangor and like many other Welsh women writers (including Margiad Evans) she initially trained as an artist.

A selection of her art work can be viewed on the Martin Tinney Gallery website.

Chamberlain is known within Welsh Writing in English for her accounts of island living including life on Ynys Ennli in Tide-Race and the Greek island of Ydra in A Rope of Vines.

Image

However, perhaps one her most interesting ventures was a project which allowed her to combine her passion for image and word. During the Second World War Chamberlain set up the Caseg Press in Llanllechid with the help of her partner, artist John Petts.

Alongside war poet Alun Lewis, the trio created the Caseg Broadsheets. Inspired by chapbooks and broadside ballads, the broadsheets featured original woodcut artwork by Petts and poetry from prominent Welsh poets of the time including Dylan Thomas and Lynette Roberts. Alun Lewis wanted to create an affordable piece of literature available to the masses. Unfortunately the broadsheets did not take off as they would have hoped as the team struggled to fund their venture. However, it is still possible to find original copies of these wonderful pieces of artwork that combine poetry and images that highlight Welsh artistic output during the war. Brenda Chamberlain’s own account of the process behind the  project is also documented in her book ‘Alun Lewis and the Making of the Caseg Broadsheets.’

Original copies can be found at Bangor University Archives.