books

Indexing Gilbert White

November 10, 2018 0 Comments
Indexing Gilbert White

Selborne, Hampshire. Why we’ve never been there before I don’t know. The village isn’t far from Winchester, familiar enough territory. It’s a bit off the beaten track, though a busy B road passes through the village, channelling noise and people through the narrow main street that would have been quiet in the mid-eighteenth century, when […]

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In search of 100 objects

September 30, 2018 0 Comments
In search of 100 objects

September 2018 has turned out to be a month of personal endings. Three weeks ago, after five and a half years of sporadic legwork, we finished the last mile of the Wales Coast Path. This week saw the publication of two books I’ve been working on for what seems almost as long, Wales in 100 […]

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Sgythia

September 22, 2018 2 Comments
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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