Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Bohemian lives and controversy

A contemporary of Dylan Thomas, Dewi Emrys, was a journalist, an editor and religious minister who had briefly led a bohemian life in London.  He retired to Talgarreg, to a house conveniently located opposite the Glanyrafon Arms.  Dylan and Caitlin rented briefly in Talgarreg too.  Dewi Emrys won the bardic Chair at the 1948 National Eisteddfod.  The Chair was donated by the Welsh Society of Vancouver, Canada.  Dewi Emrys' best known and popular work is the 'englyn' (4 line, strict meter stanza) to the horizon 'Y Gorwel'. This translation is by D.Ll.W, a member of the same Welsh Society of Vancouver.

Behold an illusion like a wheel's rim,
A magician's work surrounds us.
An ancient distant non existent line,
An endless border it cannot define.

Wele rith fel ymyl rhod - o'n cwmpas,
Campwaith dewin hynod.
Hen linell bell nad yw'n bod,
Hen derfyn nad yw'n darfod.

The Horizon

A hint of controversy

Another contemporary of Dylan Thomas was Eluned Phillips from Cenarth. Her autobiography 'The Reluctant Redhead' relates how she lived in London and Paris, where she also knew Augustus John, Edith Piaf, Jean Cocteau, and Picasso. Recognised in Wales as an accomplished poet, she won the eisteddfod bardic crown twice.

The controversial author Caradoc Evans, originally from Rhydlewis, was a short story writer, novelist and playwright. Dylan Thomas travelled to Aberystwyth in 1934 to visit him. Evans’ collection of stories about peasant life in west Wales, ‘My People’ (1915), was considered shocking at the time of its publication, but has since been compared with James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’. Visit Rhydlewis, in the heart of the Ceredigion countryside, or Aberystwyth and nearby New Cross, where he lived with his wife, the author Marguerite Helene, Countess Barcynska - nom de plume Oliver Sandys. Her novel, 'The Pleasure Garden', became Alfred Hickcock's debut feature film.

Islwyn Ffowc Ellis, originally from the Wrexham area but settled at Lampeter where he was a university lecturer, authored several novels exploring 20th century politics. 'Cysgod y Cryman' and its sequel 'Yn ôl i Leifior', were translated into English as ‘In the shadow of the sickle’ and ‘Back to Lleifior’.

Contemporary authors Niall Griffirths and Malcolm Pryce have a different perspective on Aberystwyth and rural Wales. Pryce tells humourous tales of druids and detectives in an affectionate pastiche of the film noir detective genre, set in an Aberystwyth controlled by a Druid Mafia whilst Wales Book of the Year winner Griffith​'s characters are atougher antiheroes, but perhaps his list of favourite authors shows that he is following in the footsteps of some of his own heroes.

There's an audio tour based on Malcolm Price's 'Aberystwyth Mon Amour' which is a practical walking tour and an amusing introduction to the world of Pryce's detective, Louie Knight.