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Fallen Poets: Edward Thomas & Hedd Wyn


Fallen Poets: Edward Thomas & Hedd Wyn exhibition opens at The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

One hundred years ago two poets were killed in battle during the Great War: Hedd Wyn and Edward Thomas.  Born over fifteen years and two hundred miles apart, they are connected by Wales, poetry, nature and the War.  

Hedd Wyn is known as the ‘Poet of the Black Chair’ after he posthumously won the chair at the Birkenhead National Eisteddfod for his ode ‘Yr Arwr’.  Edward Thomas is often referred to as one of the most important poets of the twentieth century, even though his whole poetic output was created in the two years prior to his death.  In this exhibition we celebrate their life, their work and their legacy.
There will be an opportunity to see the original manuscripts of Hedd Wyn’s famous ode ‘Yr Arwr’ (The Hero)  and memories of his friend and fellow soldier, J.B. Thomas, about their time in the Army, as well as the way his story has inspired writers, poets and filmmakers.

The exhibition also looks at the impact of the war on Edward Thomas by exploring his extensive archive, including letters he sent to his wife, Helen, where he describes life on the front, as well as drafts of his poems and the last diary he kept who was still in his pocket when he died.

To coincide with the exhibition, a successful application for funding was submitted to the ScottishPower Foundation to support an Educational project. The Library’s Education Service will work with Snowdonia National Park who is located at the Ysgwrn, to present workshops for primary school pupils on the life and work of Hedd Wyn.

All pupils who take part in this programme will receive a booklet produced to accompany the workshops. As part of the project, Mewn Cymeriad theatre company have been commissioned to produce a performance, which will be held at the Library, Yr Ysgwrn and locations between Birkenhead and Trawsfynydd to simulate the journey of the Black Chair. The funding will enable a 3D Replica of the Black Chair to be shown at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Bridgend, as well as a facsimile of Hedd Wyn's winning poem, Yr Arwr which will also be used in the workshops.

Linda Tomos, National Librarian, The National Library of Wales said:

"It is very appropriate that The National Library is holding an exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the death of Hedd Wyn and Edward Thomas, two poets who died in battle during the Great War. It is very important that we keep the memory alive "

Further Information

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Related collections

Related events
Edward Thomas and Wales - Dr Andrew Webb
The diaries and manuscripts of the poet and prose writer Edward Thomas (1878-1917) are held at the Library. The Presentation coincides with our exhibition to note the centenary of his death in action during the Battle of Arras. The talk will explore Edward Thomas as a Welsh Writer, considering his Welsh heritage, his connection to figures including O.M Edwards, and the ways in which Wales informs his prose and poetry.
Free admission by ticket.

Video clip:
Two short films were create to coincide with the exhibition. ‘Rhyfel’ by Hedd Wyn and ‘Roads’ by Edward Thomas are read by individuals.