William Thomas, also known as Islwyn, was a poet and preacher. One can find a series of dualisms and tensions in Islwyn’s poetic works and these reflect many aspects of his life. When he attended an Academy in Swansea he fell in love with a young girl named Ann, but she died before they could marry; this, coupled with his unhappy marriage to Martha, profoundly affected his poetry. Islwyn’s compositions demonstrate other personal strains and unbalances; from his English upbringing and yet deep interest in Welsh poetry; to the joyful and sullen nature of his personality, and the preacher and the poet in him. He was an avid eisteddfod competitor, albeit not very successful. His poem ‘Abraham yn aberthu Isaac’ won first prize at the 1853 Cefn-coed-y-cymer eisteddfod. The last eisteddfod held by the Abergavenny Cymreigyddion Society saw him win for an elegy on Carnhuanawc. Islwyn won the chair at Eisteddfod Rhyl in 1870 for his awdl ‘Y Nos’; Eisteddfod Holyhead in 1872 for ‘Moses’; Eisteddfod Caerphilly in 1874 for ‘Cartref’ and at Treherbert in 1877 for ‘Y Nefoedd’. He therefore never won at the National Eisteddfod. ‘Gwaith Barddonol Islwyn’ is a compilation of his work, edited by O. M. Edwards.