Anglo-Welsh literature

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Anglo-Welsh literature and Welsh writing in English are terms used to describe works written in the English language by Welsh writers, especially if they either have subject matter relating to Wales or (as in the case of Anglo-Welsh poetry in particular) are influenced by the Welsh language in terms of patterns of usage or syntax. It has been recognised as a distinctive entity only since the 20th century.[1] The need for a separate identity for this kind of writing arose because of the parallel development of modern Welsh literature, i.e., literature in the Welsh language.



The phrase 'Welsh writing in English' has replaced the earlier 'Anglo-Welsh literature' because many Welsh writers in English have felt that the latter usage failed to give " Welsh status to Welsh people who, not speaking Cymraeg, nevertheless do not feel at all English." [2]

There is no final, clear definition of what constitutes a Welsh writer in English, or Anglo-Welsh author. Obviously it includes Welshmen whose first language is English, rather than Welsh, such as Swansea born Dylan Thomas (1914–53) and novelist Emyr Humphreys, born in Prestatyn in 1919. But it also includes those born outside Wales with Welsh parentage, who were influenced by their Welsh roots, like London-born poet David Jones (1895–1974). Glyn Jones in The Dragon Has Two Tongues defines the Anglo-Welsh as "those Welsh men and women who write in English about Wales" (p.37).

In addition, writers born outside Wales, who have both lived in as well as written about Wales, are often included, such as John Cowper Powys (1872–1963), who settled in Wales in 1935 and wrote two major novels, Owen Glendower (1941) and Porius (1949), that have Welsh subject matter. Utilising Welsh history and settings, Powys used the mythology of The Mabinogion. He also studied the Welsh language. [3] Then there is the poet, teacher, and critic Jeremy Hooker (born 1941), who taught at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth from 1965–84 and became deeply involved in writing about and teaching Welsh writing in English during this time, though he wrote only a few poems with Welsh subject matter. James Hanley (1897–1985) lived in Wales from 1931 until 1963 and was buried there, but only a few of his many works have Welsh subject matters. [4] As one writer notes: "a widely debatable area of Anglo-Welsh acceptability exists". [5] Saunders Lewis, the noted Welsh-language poet, novelist, dramatist, and nationalist, in fact rejected the possibility of Anglo-Welsh literature, because of the use of the language of the British colonialists, affirming that '"the literature which people called Anglo-Welsh was indistinguishable from English literature." [6]

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