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This report is taken from PN Review 132, Volume 26 Number 4, March - April 2000.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

Last year (1999) saw the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of Richard Llewellyn's How Green Was My Valley, which gained a huge and immediate popular readership in spite of the war and remains in print after goodness knows how many editions and in a babel of languages. In the past few weeks I have become accustomed to seeing in the press Llewellyn pictured, thin-lipped, bushy-browed and wearing a perky hat that looks a mite small, against a background that I recognise as home: Gilfach Goch. There is the stream, the Ogwr Fach, its course somewhat altered by the landscaping of the centre of the valley, but undefiled now. And there, in line with the brim of the writer's hat, Glenavon Terrace, which once overlooked the railway track that carried coal, only coal. Mistier, behind Glenavon Terrace, in a faint crenellation, are the chimneys and the backs of the houses of High Street, stretching up the valley and merging imperceptibly with the blurred mass of the hillside. It is no longer the place I grew up in, where, though they were separated by only a few hundred yards, one side of the valley was hidden from the other by black mountains of pit-waste.

Topographically, my old home is unlike the Rhondda, whose twin ribbons of development (the westerly fingers of Glamorgan's 'gloved shaped valleys' which, Auden imagined, 'hid a life / Grim as a tidal rock-pool's'), came to represent 'The Valleys' in the minds of most outsiders. Gilfach ...


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