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Writers of Wales: The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse & John Cowper Powys

Summer 2013 - February 2014

The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth will exhibit the works of John Cowper Powys and The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse during the forthcoming months.

Writers of Wales looks at the history of The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse which was published fifty years ago, and at the varied reaction to Sir Thomas Parry’s notable anthology; a publication which is still widely used in schools and universities across Wales.

The exhibition includes the original manuscripts of some of the poems that appeared in The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse, letters showing the relationship between Sir Thomas Parry and the Clarendon Press as well as a number of notable Welsh figures, reviews of the anthology, and some of the history of other poetry anthologies in the Welsh Language.

The exhibition also features the work of John Cowper Powys. The author of novels, poetry, philosophical works and essays, Cowper Powys published over fifty literary works in his lifetime, but his strange imagination and writing style has led to him being described as a form of literary Marmite.

This exhibition presents manuscripts of some of Cowper Powys’s most famous novels, Wolf Solent and A Glastonbury Romance, and also aims to reveal aspects of his personal life through letters to his life companion, Phyllis Playter, and literary figures such as E.E. Cummings and Henry Miller, along with the diaries he kept whilst living in America and north Wales.

His connection with Wales through his father’s family and his time living in north Wales had a great influence on John Cowper Powys, and in this exhibition it becomes clear how Wales’s history and mythology came to affect his literary work.

Mari Elin Jones, The National Library of Wales Interpretation Officer and Curator of the exhibition said:

‘We are very pleased to be able to exhibit the works of John Cowper Powys, a litterateur who deserves more recognition, alongside a unique collection of manuscripts by the notable bards featured in The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse. The Library has permanent exhibition space to show literature works from the Library’s collection, and we hope that many people will take this opportunity to visit an exhibition which brings the Library’s multiple collections together’

The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse was first published in 1962, but it was in 1963 that the most trenchant criticism of it would emerge. In his presentation at the Library’s Drwm auditorium on the 17th of July, Professor Derec Llwyd Morgan explains who persuaded Claredon Press to publish it, what principles the editor adhered to in selecting the poetry, who assisted him, and what response the volume generated. We gain fresh insight into Thomas Parry’s relationships with the prominent Welsh people of the time, among them T.Ifor Rees, Saunders Lewis and Gwenallt.
Following his presentation, Professor Morgan will be launching his latest book entitled Brenhinbren by Gomer Press. The book discusses the life and work of Thomas Parry.

Further Information

Elin-Hâf 01970 632 534

Lunchtime Presentation
Hannercanmlwyddiant yr Oxford Book of Welsh Verse
Professor Derec Llwyd Morgan
Wednesday 17 July at 13:15
Free admission by ticket