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English and Creative Writing: Centre for the Study of Welsh Writing in English

A guide for students studying English and Creative Writing at the University of South Wales
Mae'r canllaw hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg


The library team has asked several researchers and writers to highlight some of the titles in the Centre for the Study of Welsh Writing in English Collection.

The following titles offer a useful introduction to Welsh literature (click on the images below for more information).

The Dragon Has Two Tongues Postcolonialism Revisited The Cambridge history of Welsh literature

An Introduction to Anglo-Welsh Literature

Book over of the Dragon has Two Tongues

Book cover of Postcolonialism revisited writing Wales in English



The Queen of the Rushes

(Re)presenting Wales: Allen Raine’s Queen of the Rushes

In the 1998 Honno Classics edition of Allen Raine’s 1906 Queen of the Rushes, Katie Gramich suggests Raine’s writing is fuelled by ‘patriotic purpose’ (page 4). Allen Raine’s commitment to depicting an authentic account of South-West Wales manifests itself in the idyllic yet rugged landscape and wild weather, which instantly become peripheral characters driving the narrative to field or shore, indoors or out.

Set in the coastal village of Tregildas the narrative follows the romantic entanglements between Gwenifer Owen, married couple Nance and Gildas Rees, and Captain Jack. While the novel’s subtitle A Tale of the Welsh Revival suggests the foregrounding of the 1904-5 Welsh Revival, the influence of Evan Roberts and the transformative power of religious awakening it is the representation of Welshness through the inhabitants of Tregildas which drives the narrative. The novel’s alternate subtitle A Tale of the Welsh Country used for US editions, and for all subsequent international editions, betrays the significance of Raine’s desire to produce literature dedicated to, and in service of, place. 

The infamous depiction of Wales as a dirty, largely underdeveloped, parochial nation and the Welsh as illiterate drunks wallowing in their ignorance published in the 1847 report into education in Wales, the Blue Books, branded Wales as yet another of England’s colonies in desperate need of civilisation. In Welsh the report came to be known bitterly as ‘Brad y Llyfrau Gleision’ (Treachery of the Blue Books) and provided information not only on the state of Welsh education, but of the moral and religious standing of the Welsh people. By the early twentieth century perceptions persisted of Wales as stubbornly rural and therefore inherently primitive, with only few Southern towns and cities becoming industrial centres. Queen of the Rushes stands firm against these historical Anglo perceptions, as the Welsh social imaginary is characterised by Christian values, chapel attendance and the close communal co-operation which resulted in collective welfare, contrasting with the capitalist individualism which characterised Victorian and Edwardian Britain. 

The novel’s primary characters step into the recognisable tropes of English Victorian fiction: Gwenifer Owen portrays the paragon of Victorian femininity, Nance the contrasting wayward and stubborn femme fatale who attempts to leave her husband for the infinitely more interesting Captain Jack, and Gildas Rees adopting the role of honest and industrious patriarch. The novel’s devotion to its Welshness is punctuated however with persistent disruptions to standard English with Cardiganshire dialect, many of the Welsh words left untranslated. Raine’s linguistic disturbance serves as an act of resistance against the Blue Books’ verdict that Wales should abandon its language and culture, and embrace the modern world of England and English.    

Living most of her life in and around London, Allen Raine’s novels are characterised by her ‘hiraeth’ for home. This untranslatable Welsh word connotes not only a longing for place, but a more complex notion of acknowledging a space and place which, through its romanticisation by the individual, may never have existed at all. The idyllic, rural Wales of Queen of the Rushes unites the infinitesimal details of realism with rural romance, in a literary manifestation of the author’s hiraeth for home. The novel however cannot be divorced from wider discussions of Welsh national identity and culture, as Raine’s (re)presentation of Wales captures the fragile beauty of a nation finding its place in a modern, and increasingly English, world.   


Review written by Dr Jess Lewis, whose thesis Exposed Flesh: Metaphors of Cannibalism in English Literature 1840 - 1900 is available in PURE. 

Ruth Bidgood

In this first podcast in our series celebrating works in the Centre for the Study of Welsh Writing in English Collection, Alice Entwistle, Professor of Contemporary Poetry and Textual Aesthetics, introduces us to the work and life of Ruth Bidgood, one of Wales’ best-loved poetic voices, who has recently passed away. 

Professor Entwistle interviewed Ruth Bidgood for her book In Her Own Words: Women Talking Poetry and Wales and has reflected widely on Bidgood’s relationship with landscape and Wales in particular.

To celebrate Bidgood’s love for nature, we met on a sunny afternoon to record this session on the slopes of the wooded ridge which rises steeply behind the University's Treforest Campus, and talked while Ozzy, Alice's terrier, explored the surroundings, as you'll probably be able to hear.
Join us in this celebration of Ruth Bidgood’s life and work!

Ruth Bidgood