books

Sgythia

September 22, 2018 1 Comment
Sgythia

Pe bawn i’n nofelydd hanesyddol, byddwn i’n meddwl dwywaith cyn dewis Dr John Davies Mallwyd fel ffigwr canolog fy llyfr. Ysgolhaig oedd John Dafis (Davies) – yr ysgolhaig disgleiriaf o oes y Dadeni yng Nghymru, ac un o’n hysgolheigion amlycaf erioed.  Ei brif gampau oedd diwygio Beibl William Morgan a chyhoeddi gramadeg a geiriaduron Cymraeg […]

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The sore feet of Ursula Martin

June 11, 2018 1 Comment
The sore feet of Ursula Martin

When I first heard about what Ursula Martin had done I found it hard to believe.  Over a period of seventeen months she set out to walk 3,300 miles around Wales – in the end she walked 3,700 – including all the recognized long distance paths and other, river-long walks, she devised herself.  Now she’s […]

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Hints and helps for every-day emergencies

April 30, 2018 0 Comments
Hints and helps for every-day emergencies

On the book table in the RISW coffee morning I find a drab, battered paperback.  It looks much older than the other books around it.  The faded cover has three overlapping circular pictures featuring a housewife, a small child and a man digging with a spade.  What takes my eye is the title, Hints and […]

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Philip Pullman and the revival of fascism

January 1, 2018 3 Comments
Philip Pullman and the revival of fascism

One of the sweetest memories of reading books to our daughters when they were young was narrating Philip Pullman’s ‘His dark materials trilogy’ to E. in the 1990s, not long after the books were published.  One of them, Northern lights, carries a message to E. from the author on its title page.  Sometimes I’d continue […]

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Sitting for Bernard

November 12, 2017 0 Comments
Sitting for Bernard

For over forty years, and with increased energy since 1990, Bernard Mitchell has been collecting people.  The people are artists and writers working in Wales, and his means of collecting them is the camera lens.  Many people have seen parts of his great project, the Wales Arts Archive, over the years.  In the 1990s the […]

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John Ystumllyn: an African in 18th century Eifionydd

August 27, 2017 8 Comments
John Ystumllyn: an African in 18th century Eifionydd

It wasn’t his real name, ‘John Ystumllyn’, but one the locals gave him. Another was ‘Jac Du’ or ‘Jack Black’. How he arrived, unwillingly, in north Wales is obscure. What is certain is that his origins were in Africa, and that he found a home for himself and his family in the Criccieth area in […]

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Reading and silence

August 20, 2017 1 Comment
Reading and silence

I’m working my way, slowly – that seems the best way – through Sara Maitland’s A book of silence, and I’ve reached the part where she discusses the paradoxical relationship between reading and silence.  On the one hand, reading the way we do it today is a silent communion between writer and reader.  Silent, on […]

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Philip Gross’s ‘Betweenland’

March 6, 2017 0 Comments
Philip Gross’s ‘Betweenland’

A while ago, I can’t now remember where, I saw a relief map of Britain as it might be a few centuries from now.  Most of England was under water, though Wales and Scotland were largely intact.  The queues at the borders, it occurred to me, will be lengthy. Many people prefer to turn their […]

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Some books I read in 2016

January 2, 2017 0 Comments
Some books I read in 2016

If last year was a desperate time in the public world, there were plenty of comforts closer to home.  As always, reading was one of them.  These days I read more than I have since I was a teenager, with the added advantage that if I find a book unreadable I’m now happy, time and life […]

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Peter Lord’s ‘The Tradition’

October 8, 2016 0 Comments
Peter Lord’s ‘The Tradition’

In front of me is a copy of The artist in Wales, the first book to attempt a full conspectus of art in Wales, past and present.  It was written in 1957 by David Bell, when he was Curator of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery.  It’s a drab volume, even taking into account the austere […]

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