Inventor of Britain: The Life and Legacy of Humphrey Llwyd

14.01.2019

January will see the opening of a new exhibition at the Library celebrating the life and work of Humphrey Llwyd (1527-1568).  Inventor of Britain: The Life and Legacy of Humphrey Llwyd (19.01.19 – 29.06.19) will showcase some of Llwyd’s most significant work on display, exploring his many achievements and explaining their significance today.

Held in association with the AHRC funded project, Inventor of Britain: The Complete Works of Humphrey Llwyd, this exhibition will celebrate his contribution to Welsh Culture and highlight the new research produced as part of the project.  

Humphrey Llwyd, an antiquary and mapmaker born in Denbigh, is thought of by many as the Inventor of Britain, having been credited with inventing the term British Empire, but he was also the man who put Wales on the map by producing the first published map of Wales as a country.  

As a leading member of the Renaissance period in Wales, Llwyd’s achievements are numerous and he played a major part in creating the concept of Wales as a nation.  He produced a number of significant works including an English translation of the early Welsh Chronicle the Brut y Tywysogion.  He was also instrumental in helping to steer the Bill for the translation of the Bible into Welsh through Parliament and popularising the story of Prince Madoc’s discovery of America.  

Despite being described as “the most famous antiquarius of all our country” during his life and as “one of the most important of Welsh humanists and a key figure in the history of the Renaissance in Wales” by Saunders Lewis much of Llwyd’s story remains unfamiliar to most people in Wales.

Linda Tomos, Chief Executive and Librarian at The National Library of Wales said:
“I am delighted that our partnership has resulted in this impressive exhibition which places Humphrey Llwyd where he rightly belongs as an important figure in Welsh history.”

Professor Philip Schwyzer of Exeter University, Principal Investigator of the project said:
“Llwyd’s influence stretched beyond Wales to England, the Netherlands, and Italy. This exhibition will help us to grasp the full scope of his achievement.”

Huw Thomas, Map Curator at the Library added:
“Humphrey Llwyd is one of the most underrated figures of the Welsh Renaissance. In particular he is the father of Welsh cartography and it is entirely appropriate for us to celebrate this here at the Library where we hold such an important collection of his works.”

Many of Llwyd’s most significant works will be on display in this exhibition, including a number of copies of his map of Wales and a letter from Llwyd to Ortelius, written from his death bed, ensuring that his contribution to Welsh history and culture is recognised and celebrated.  

A full programme of events and activities will take place during the exhibition, including:

26.01.19 1.30pm
Official exhibition opening and Friends of NLW Lecture: The Literary Legacy of Humphrey Llwyd
Philip Schwyzer, Exeter University
Admission by ticket £4.00, free to NLW Friends

08.03.19 1.00pm
'Myned trwy wledydd Europa', Teithiau Humphrey Llwyd
Paul Bryant-Quinn, Exeter University
Free admission by ticket

26.04.19 1.00pm
Humphrey Llwyd: Hanesydd Cymru
Huw Pryce, Bangor University
Free admission by ticket

31.05.19 9.30am
Carto-Cymru: The Wales Map Symposium 2019
Humphrey Llwyd: Inventor of Britain
Admission by ticket £10

The exhibition, Inventor of Britain: The Life and Legacy of Humphrey Llwyd, runs from 19.01.19 – 29.06.19 in the Hengwrt Gallery.  Admission free of charge.

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Further Information:
Nia Wyn Dafydd 01970 632871 or post@llgc.org.uk