literature

Magnus Maximus, man and memory

November 21, 2016 2 Comments
Magnus Maximus, man and memory

Doing some research recently on the Roman fort and settlement of Segontium I found myself face to face with a Roman emperor, Magnus Maximus.  His story is interesting but not unusual.  Later memory of him, especially in his guise as Macsen Wledig, is singular. His face stares out of coins he had minted to cement […]

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A curious traveller in north Wales

August 20, 2016 0 Comments
A curious traveller in north Wales

There’s an excellent collaborative research project in train at the moment, led by Bangor University, called European travellers to Wales.  Its workers are busy unearthing accounts by tourists – writers and artists – from the Continent who visited Europe between 1750 and 2010.  At the same time another project, Curious travellers: Thomas Pennant and the […]

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THP-W allan heb ei het: ‘O’r Pedwar Gwynt’

August 7, 2016 1 Comment
THP-W allan heb ei het: ‘O’r Pedwar Gwynt’

Yn y gwynt a’r glaw ar faes Eisteddfod y Fenni y dydd o’r blaen prynais i gopi o Rifyn 1 o’r cylchgrawn llenyddol newydd sbon O’r pedwar gwynt. Mae O’r pedwar gwynt wedi codi fel ffenics o lwch y cylchgrawn hynafol Taliesin, a fu farw yn y gwanwyn.  Roedd Taliesin yn gyhoeddiad mor wylaidd a […]

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The debate about Mytilene: a short footnote on Brexit

July 16, 2016 2 Comments
The debate about Mytilene: a short footnote on Brexit

In 428 BC, three years into the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies, the city of Mytilene on the Aegean island of Lesbos decides to secede from the Athenian empire. The oligarchic rulers of Mytilene fear that what independence they still have – unlike other states they had retained their navy […]

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‘A kestrel for a knave’: in memoriam Barry Hines

May 15, 2016 2 Comments
‘A kestrel for a knave’: in memoriam Barry Hines

In March the news came that Barry Hines had died. My mind flashed back to the time when I went with my mother to a cinema in Barnsley to see Kes, Ken Loach’s second feature film that was based on Hines’s short novel, A kestrel for a knave, published in 1968. It was late 1969 […]

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A Roman poet in west Wales

April 3, 2016 0 Comments
A Roman poet in west Wales

Martial – Marcus Valerius Martialis – was a first century Roman poet.  He came to live in Rome from Augusta Bilbilis, near Calatayud in modern Spain, and made his name through his hundreds of short poems or ‘epigrams’.  Witty, punchy and far too foulmouthed and sexually explicit for broadcast on Radio 4, only now are […]

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Capel-y-ffin: tro ar fyd David Jones

February 28, 2016 0 Comments
Capel-y-ffin: tro ar fyd David Jones

Mae’n drueni mawr na fydd yr arddangosfa David Jones: vision and memory, sydd newydd ddod i ben yn Pallant House, Chichester, yn dod yma i Gymru, cartref ysbrydol ac ysbrydoliaeth yr artist ac awdur o Lundain.  Fel cytunodd pob un o’i hadolygwyr, arddangosfa o’r safon uchaf fu hi, gyda nifer fawr o weithiau anghyfarwydd, yn […]

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Kyffin Williams the writer

February 5, 2016 4 Comments
Kyffin Williams the writer

The text of the 8th Kyffin Williams Annual Lecture, given at Highgate School, London on 1 February 2016. First, I’d like to thank David Smith and Highgate School for inviting me to give this year’s Kyffin Williams Lecture.  It’s very fitting that Highgate remembers Kyffin so loyally, because he was always grateful to the school […]

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Back to Briggflats

January 30, 2016 0 Comments
Back to Briggflats

My favourite place in England is the hamlet of Brigflatts, a few miles from Sedbergh.  The river Rawthey flows nearby, and the few houses cluster around the Friends Meeting House, one of the oldest Quaker meeting houses in the country (1675). In the graveyard lies the body of Basil Bunting.  In Quaker fashion, all the […]

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Drinking coffee in the desert with Charles Doughty

January 16, 2016 0 Comments
Drinking coffee in the desert with Charles Doughty

On 10 November 1876, having taught himself Arabic, a 31 year old Englishmen called Charles Montagu Doughty set off from Damascus to travel alone across the Empty Quarter of the Arabian peninsula via Meda’in Saleh to join the Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.  It was a quixotic act.  The British Consul refused to help him […]

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