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This review is taken from PN Review 26, Volume 8 Number 6, July - August 1982.

CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE Douglas Phillips, Sir Lewis Morris (Writers of Wales series, University of Wales Press) £2.50


                 Only daft Ianto
Is left to recite the Complete Works of Sir Lewis Morris
To puzzled sheep, before throwing himself over
The edge of the abandoned quarry.
         (Harri Webb, 'Synopsis of the Great Welsh Novel')


I have read Harri Webb's poem many times without ever being sufficiently curious to wonder at this allusion to Sir Lewis Morris, far less address myself to the Complete Works, published, incidentally, in 1907. The lines suggest that only the suicidally daft would bother. Yet Morris was, after Tennyson, the most popular poet of the last two decades or so of the nineteenth century. What happened to those untold thousands of books? Perhaps they fired the boilers of locomotives and warships in the great age of steam.

Morris was born in Carmarthen in 1833. His father was a lawyer, his mother the daughter of a local shipowner and merchant. It was a prosperous family. He was educated at Carmarthen, Cowbridge Grammar School and Sherborne, whence he. won an honorary scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford. There he became the first undergraduate in thirty years to gain a first in classical greats. He proceeded to Lincoln's Inn and was called to the bar in 1861. Instead of practising as a barrister, however, he became a conveyancing counsel in London, and for relaxation he joined 'The Pen and Pencil Club', a writers' circle in Notting Hill. The diffidence which characterised his professional life carried over ...


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