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Some of the oldest surviving poems in the world were written in Welsh. Since the sixth century, literature has been a key part of Wales’ cultural landscape and it continues to play an important part in many of our lives today.
Writing and Publishing
The Welsh Books Council in Aberystwyth is the cornerstone of the publishing industry in Wales. The Council offers specialist services in the fields of editing, design, marketing and distribution, and awards grants to publishers.
Its gwales.com site has over 30,000 Welsh language and English language books from Wales on sale – with a range of titles aimed specifically at Welsh learners. There’s a free app on the site too, making it quick and easy to download e-books from across Wales.
Literature Wales is the national body responsible for the development of literature in Wales, in both the Welsh and English languages. It is made up of Yr Academi Gymreig / The Welsh Academy, which is the Society for Writers of Wales, and Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre.
Literature Wales appoints the National Poet of Wales. It also organises book launches, literary tours, school visits, workshops and writing competitions – including the Wales Book of the Year Awards, writing courses at Tŷ Newydd, financing and advising authors, Dinefwr Literature Festival and events at Tŷ Newydd. On their website you will find news about the latest literary events across Wales as well as a list of courses suitable for writers of all levels.
Wales is the “Land of poets”, a fact celebrated each week by one of BBC Radio Cymru’s most popular programmes Talwrn y Beirdd.
This weekly poetry competition sees teams of local poets from all over Wales compete against each other under the supervision of the competition president and judge (Meuryn) – Ceri Wyn Jones. The Caernarfon team won Talwrn y Beirdd in 2014 and one of its members Llion Jones is well worth following on Twitter if you’re interested in how to tweet in Welsh rhyme.
You’ll find reviews of Welsh medium books on gwales.com. S4C’s magazine programme Prynhawn Da and arts series Pethe both feature items on Welsh language books, as does Stiwdio on BBC Radio Cymru. In the Welsh press, you can read reviews of the latest Welsh books in magazines including Golwg, Barn and Y Cymro.
Welsh Book Clubs
If you like to read and discuss books, there are book clubs held at Welsh homes, chapels and by various societies all across the country. Ask for details at your local library or check the Mentrau Iaith websites.
There’s plenty more information about the Welsh language press as well as Welsh bookshops on our Shopping page.
Wales has a ‘Bardd Plant’ (Children’s Poet) for both Welsh and English, appointed by Literature Wales with the support of Welsh Book Council. Anni Llŷn is the current Bardd Plant and takes parts in sessions with children in schools, festivals and events.
Each year, the Welsh Book Council awards authors for the best books for children and young people – the Tir na n-Og awards.
‘Sgwadiau Sgwennu’r Ifanc’ (Young People’s Writing Squads) are organised by local councils and Literature Wales to encourage bright young writers across many counties.
The Welsh Book Council have launched a Children’s Book of the Month scheme and also supports many events for children on ‘Diwrnod y Llyfr’ (Book Day) each year. To see the Welsh books available for children of all ages, and to see which is awarded Book of the Month, take a look at the Welsh Book Council’s website gwales.com.
Publications and Blogs
For a taster of the works of some of Wales’ most prominent writers, take a look at Taliesin. This literary magazine is published three times a year by the Welsh Academy with support from the Welsh Books Council. Taliesin is full of poems, articles, short stories, writings, reviews and translations of other literature into the Welsh language.
If you like writing or reading more experimental and modern literature then Y Neuadd is the place to go. Y Neuadd is a space for authors and readers who like all sorts of literature but especially literature that pushes boundaries. The digital magazine publishes poetry, stories, writings, reviews, articles and chapters from novels which are about to be published. Every year the National Eisteddfod publishes the festivals successful literate work in ‘Cyfansoddiad a Beirniadaethau’, Publications and Critiques – it’s worth reading.
The blog Pethe discusses every type of Welsh book while author Bethan Gwanas and lecturer Dr Siwan Rosser blog about Welsh children’s books.
Local Eisteddfodau, and others that are held across Wales throughout the year, offer the ideal opportunity for writers to practice their craft and compete against others. Wales’ finest poets and writers are honoured every year at the National Eisteddfod in August and the Urdd National Eisteddfod in May, which encourages talented young authors, poets and playwrights to practice their skills in the fields of prose, poetry and drama.
Wales is home to a whole host of literary and arts festivals, both local and national. Dinefwr Literature Festival is held every two years in Carmarthenshire and Hay Festival also now features elements of Welsh language literature.
Browse Literature Wales’ website for information on the latest literary events for readers and writers throughout Wales, or sign up to their newsletter to receive the latest updates.
The History of Welsh Literature
The National Library of Wales is home to some of the nation’s most important literary works. For example, The Book of Taliesin – a collection of some of the oldest poems in Welsh – is kept here. You can visit the Library in Aberystwyth, or browse some of its collections online.
For an overview of the history of Welsh literature on the web take a look at the Wikipedia article on the subject in Welsh.
A number of specialised courses in Wales Literature can be studied via the Universities of Wales.