How Green Was My Valley

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How Green Was My Valley is a 1939 novel by Richard Llewellyn, telling the story through narration of the main character, of his Welsh family and the mining community they live in. The author had claimed to have based the book on his own knowledge of the Gilfach Goch area, but this was proven false, as Llewellyn was English-born and spent little time in Wales. As it turned out, he had actually gathered his facts from conversations with local mining families.[1]

The title of the novel appears in two sentences. It is first used in Chapter thirty, after the narrator has just had his first sexual experience. He sits up to . . look down in the valley. He then reflects: How green was my Valley that day, too, green and bright in the sun. The phrase is used again in the novel's last sentence: How green was my Valley then, and the Valley of them that have gone.

Contents

Plot summary

The novel is set in South Wales in the reign of Queen Victoria. It tells the story of the Morgans, a poor but respectable mining family of the South Wales Valleys, through the eyes of the youngest son, Huw Morgan.

Huw's academic ability sets him apart from his elder brothers and enables him to consider a future away from this troubled industrial environment. His five brothers and his father are miners; after the eldest brother, Ivor, is killed in an mining accident, Huw moves in with his sister-in-law, Bronwen, with whom he has always been in love.

One of Huw's three sisters, Angharad, marries the wealthy mine owner's son, whom she does not love, and the marriage is an unhappy one. She never overcomes her clandestine relationship with the local minister.

Huw's father is later killed in a mine explosion. After everyone Huw has known either dies or moves away, he decides to leave as well, and tells us the story of his life just before he does.

Characters

The Older Morgans:

  • Gwilym Morgan, Huw's father: He likes things done properly, with an attention to manners, and a minding of one's own business
  • Beth Morgan, Huw's mother: devoted to her children and husband, uneducated, struggles to hold in her temper
  • Bronwen, sister-in-law: A gentle character to whom Huw goes when he is in trouble or wants to know information that the adults hold from him. She is the mother of Gareth.
  • Ivor Morgan, Huw's eldest brother, marries Bronwen, sides with the father against the strike, defends Angharad against Iestin Evan's initial familiarity.

The Middle Brothers: These are Huw's young adult brothers. Ianto goes to London to find work early in the book, but returns unsatisified; Owen and Gwilym do the same later.

  • Ianto Morgan, Huw's second oldest brother
  • Davy Morgan, a leader in the union
  • Owen Morgan, an inventor, frequently in the shed behind the house working on an engine
  • Gwilym Morgan (junior), with his wife, Marged

The Younger Morgans:

  • Angharad Morgan, Huw's sister marries Iestyn Evans
  • Ceridwen Morgan, Huw's sister, marries Blethyn
  • Huw Morgan, son, the Narrator
  • Olwen Morgan, Huw's youngest sister,

Other Characters:

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