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This report is taken from PN Review 251, Volume 46 Number 3, January - February 2020.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
Rhys Davies – a writer’s life (Parthian, 2013) was one of the late major achievements of Meic Stephens’s own exceedingly busy career as writer and editor. It won him the 2014 Wales Book of the Year non-fiction prize. Meic brought to the task his vast accumulated knowledge of Welsh writing in English, familiarity with M. Wynn Thomas’s pioneering article on his subject with respect to covert homosexuality in a symposium on Davies’s work, Decoding the Hare (2001), which he edited, access to letters and other archival material, and long friendship with Lewis Davies, who was able and willing to confide a wealth of personal reminiscence about his brother Rhys. Lewis, the last of his family, already deep into his seventies, living comfortably in a flat in Lewes, Sussex, and contemplating mortality, was determined his money would not fall into the hands of HMRC, for him embodied in Mrs Thatcher, whom he execrated. I have previously given an account (PNR 209) of how he and Meic thwarted the PM by setting up a charitable trust in Rhys’s name to do worthwhile things for writers and writing in Wales.

As a biography of this elusive figure who ranks among the foremost twentieth century short story writers in English, Meic’s book is unlikely to be superseded. That much understood, one may still be intrigued by an occasional by-way. I was struck by the information, gleaned from Lewis, that some of the money donated to the Trust (finally amounting to substantially more than half a million pounds) came from Alice B. Toklas ...


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