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This report is taken from PN Review 248, Volume 45 Number 6, July - August 2019.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
As I was saying (PNR 247), in 1853 Lady Llanover purchased from his son, Taliesin Williams, the precious collection of ancient manuscripts and eighty-eight volumes of assorted papers of Iolo Morganwg, which now reside at the National Library of Wales, one of the three institutions (the other two being a national university and a national museum) the father had foreseen. Iolo Morganwg was not the baptismal name of this cultural icon of Wales, as you will have gathered, but this is a rare case where the bardic name stands on its own rather than being enclosed in parentheses after that recorded in a parish register. The universal familiarity of ‘Iolo Morganwg’ means that many would not recognise him as plain Edward Williams.

He was born in March 1747, near Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan, the son of a stonemason, also Edward Williams, and his wife Anne, who, having been brought up by an affluent branch of her family at the Seys manor house in Boverton, near Llantwit Major, profoundly influenced this her favourite son with talk of literature, music and the history of the great families of the Vale. The child’s first language was English, but Welsh, at that period dominant in the neighbourhood, became the principal choice of his creative aspirations.

It is as Edward Williams he appears on the title page of his substantial collection of Poems, Lyric and Pastoral – in Two Volumes (London: ‘Printed for the author, by J. Nichols’, 1794), while Iolo Morganwg is granted authorship of ...


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