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This report is taken from PN Review 237, Volume 44 Number 1, September - October 2017.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
A few weeks ago I applauded, at a distance, the launch of a fresh reprint of the first, and best, 1828 edition of Twm Shon Catti. Its author, Thomas Jeffery Llewelyn Prichard, would have been delighted: a new edition with sundry minor blemishes in the original, like the eccentric numbering of chapters, removed, and it didn’t cost him a penny. The book is edited by Rita Singer in the Llyfrau Cantre’r Gwaelod series (a branch of Celtic Studies Publications, or CSP) dedicated to returning to print Welsh literary classics of the nineteenth century. I doff my cap to it, while Prichard capers.

He would have been less cheerful to receive a charge of plagiarism, from an anonymous critic, who alleges he helped himself to verses that were composed by another, namely Mrs Catherine George Ward. I will admit I had never previously heard of her, and hastened to make her acquaintance. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography tells us she was born in 1787, somewhere in Scotland, spent her childhood ‘partly in the Isle of Wight’ and ‘had family connections in Norfolk’. She made a handful of appeals to the Royal Literary Fund to tide her over existential crises, sick children and insolvent husbands dying of TB. The disease may have claimed her, too, for nothing is known of her after 1833. Biographically she is as shadowy a figure as Prichard, or probably more so.

Mrs Ward (Mrs Mason by her second marriage) was a prolific novelist, and for much of her career had a well-known publisher, George Virtue, ready ...


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