Casgliad o astudiaethau trylwyr o waith saith sy'n ysgrifennu barddoniaeth yn Saesneg, sef Jane Cave, Ann Julia Hatton, Felicia Hemans, Maria James, Sarah Williams, Emily Jane Pfeiffer ac Anna Walter Thomas.
A collection of in-depth studies of the work of seven Welsh female poets writing in English, namely Jane Cave, Ann Julia Hatton, Felicia Hemans, Maria James, Sarah Williams, Emily Jane Pfeiffer and Anna Walter Thomas.
This is a study of the work of seven Welsh women poets who wrote in English during the 19th century. Catherine Brennan, formerly a lecturer in English at Portsmouth University and now an officer of the Southern Focus Trust, has written widely on English-language womens poetry from Wales and is currently preparing, with Katie Gramich, an anthology of Welsh womens writing from the 15th century to the present day.
The seven poets included in this study are: Jane Cave, Ann Julia Hatton, Felicia Hemans, Maria James, Sarah Williams, Emily Jane Pfeiffer and Anna Walter Thomas. There are entries for all of these in the New Companion to the Literature of Wales except for Sarah Williams, who is new to me. All six entries were written by Professor Jane Aaron, whose assistance is acknowledged by Catherine Brennan in the book under review.
Our ignorance about Welsh womens writing in English is shameful. Of the seven poets, only Mrs Hemans is at all well-known, and then mainly on account of her famous poem, Casabianca, which begins, The boy stood on the burning deck. Ann Julia Hatton, known as 'Ann of Swansea', and a sister to the actress Sarah Siddons, has a local reputation in her adopted city because of her verses to the beauty of Swansea Bay. But for the rest, we have to be specialists in the period or in the genre to have even heard their names.
The present book, and the increasing number of articles and lectures dealing with Welsh womens writing, will no doubt bring about a radical change in our perception of the field.
What strikes me first of all about the seven poets is that, although they may not all have been born in Wales, or have lived here for very long, they maintained their attachment to this country and wrote about it. Secondly, despite being marginalized by their gender, class and nationality from the cultural discourses of their day, they articulated highly significant questions which are still relevant to our understanding of what it means to write in English in Wales.
It was the notorious Blue Book report of 1847 that was the watershed for womens writing in Wales, as for much else. Responses to the report were various and complex. But few areas of Welsh culture remained unchanged in the crisis of confidence and public outcry that followed in its wake. For the Welsh woman poet, the problem was even more vexed: Nonconformity, the Welsh language and the alleged immorality of Welsh women became inextricably linked with the worlds perception of Wales and its people, and the poets engagement with issues of Welsh identity had to take all these into consideration. One wonders that Welsh women were able to write at all in the face of Victorian patriarchy. But they did, and as this book amply demonstrates, often to a very high standard.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddior adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.