Series Breathes New Life into Classics of Modern Welsh Writing

17 Jan 2006

The Library of Wales series, an ambitious Welsh Assembly-backed project to bring back into print a collection of modern Welsh classic books, will be launched tonight, Tuesday, 17 January, at the Wales Millennium Centre.

The series aims to showcase 20th century Welsh writing in English by reintroducing important works across a range of styles, and ensure that they are sustained in print. The series, which has been designed to appeal to the general reader and has been given new introductions by contemporary Welsh writers, is edited by Dai Smith, writer, broadcaster and professor at Swansea University.

Launching the first five titles in the series, Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport, Alun Pugh, said: "Wales has a rich literary heritage but, until now, many of our classic works have been out of print or unavailable to the public. The publication of the first five books in the Library of Wales series is an opportunity for us to celebrate this proud heritage and introduce classic Welsh works to a whole new audience. I very much look forward to reading these classic works."

As part of the project, a copy of each title in the series is being presented to all secondary schools, colleges and universities in Wales, and to all 22 Welsh Library authorities, and will be first presented by the Minister to pupils at Whitchurch High School in Cardiff before the official launch.

The first five titles will be on shelves in bookshops around Wales and in selected stores across the UK from this month, and will be launched in USA in March. A package of educational materials will be launched at the Hay Literature Festival in May to help to re-introduce the books into schools, colleges and universities.

Another four titles are planned by September 2006, with the collection set to expand further over coming years. The series will develop to include prose and poetry, essays and fiction, anthologies and memoirs, drama and journalism.

Professor Dai Smith, series editor, said: "This series has been designed to appeal to a wide, general readership and we hope we can breathe new life into some of the most culturally significant written works produced in or about Wales in the last century. We believe that the series deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone with an interest in Wales, wherever they are in the world."

Professor M. Wynn Thomas, Chairman of the Welsh Books Council and Director of CREW (Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales at the University of Wales Swansea) said: "This landmark series is testimony to the resurgence of the English-language literature of Wales. These books are appearing at a time of exciting growth and development in English-language publishing in Wales – backed by the Welsh Books Council with the support of the Assembly Government. After years of neglect, the future for Welsh writing in English – both classics and new writing – looks very promising indeed."

Richard Davies, managing director of Parthian, the Cardigan-based publisher of the series, added: "Already we have had an excellent reception from the book trade, both on the high street and on-line, and we have secured an exciting deal with a major US retailer and launched a dedicated Library of Wales website to help the series reach an international audience."

The first five titles in the Library of Wales series are: So Long Hector Bebb, Ron Berry (foreword by Niall Griffiths); Border Country, Raymond Williams (foreword by Dai Smith); Country Dance, Margiad Evans (foreword by Catrin Collier); The Dark Philosphers, Gwyn Thomas (foreword by Elaine Morgan); Cwmardy & Where We Live, Lewis Jones (foreword by Hywel Francis).

The launch at the Wales Millennium Centre has been arranged in conjunction with Academi.

Gwales

Books from Wales on-line

gwales.com