Writers of Wales: Kate Roberts
|ISBN: 9780708323380 (0708323383)Publication Date April 2011|
Publisher: Gwasg Prifysgol Cymru / University of Wales Press, CardiffFormat: Paperback, 216x138 mm, 126 pages
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This is an introduction to the life and work of Kate Roberts, the most important woman writer ever to have emerged from Wales. It offers a comprehensive account of her life, from her birth into a life of poverty and hardship in the slate-quarrying region of Snowdonia to her death almost a hundred years later in Denbigh.
Cyflwyniad i fywyd a gwaith Kate Roberts, brenhines llên Cymru.
Katie Gramich’s erudite yet thoroughly accessible study of Kate Roberts comes as a welcome companion to Gomer’s recent releases of Gillian Clarke’s wonderful new translations of Y Lôn Wen (The White Lane) and Tegwch y Bore (One Bright Morning), and I would endorse Gramich’s claim that ‘the time is right for the rediscovery of Roberts’s work.’ One wonders why it was ever lost in the first place. Roberts’s title as ‘the queen of Welsh letters’ has never been challenged, yet the popularity of her work waned following her death in 1985, and there are – astonishingly – only nineteen items on her listed in the British Library’s integrated catalogue lists (four of which are reprints of the same text). Gramich’s contribution immediately raises that figure to twenty.
Gramich’s study embraces Roberts’s work from the early plays and striking short-fiction début (‘Y Diafol yn 1960’ – ‘The Devil in 1960’) right through to her final short-story collection, Haul a Drycin (Sunshine and Storm), which was published when she was 90 years old. Gramich also makes it abundantly clear that Roberts’s ‘silent period’ between 1937 and 1949 was not silent at all: ‘her voice was still to be heard loud and clear’ in her prolific journalism, particularly for Y Faner, which she and her husband bought in 1938. Roberts, though never a propagandist, held strong political beliefs which, as Gramich shows, are subtly conveyed in her fiction ‘in a voice that transcends the personal.’ In seeing the writer as indivisible from the woman, the autobiographical facts reflected in the fiction, and the cultural and political interconnected with the personal, Gramich offers some fascinating insights into both the life and the work.
Kate Roberts is informative, perceptive and succinct. In ‘opening up a lot of new material and providing a basis for further research and interpretation’, it will hopefully prove to be both oracular and seminal in predicting and inspiring a resurgence of interest in the most important Welsh female novelist and short-story writer of the twentieth century.
Suzy Ceulan Hughes
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.
Dr Katie Gramich is Senior Lecturer in English Literature, Cardiff University.
Kate Roberts is widely acknowledged as the major twentieth-century novelist and short story writer to have written in the Welsh language, being known and revered in Wales as 'the Queen of our Literature'.
Born into poverty, she attended University, at a time when very few Welsh women did, worked as an impassioned and inspirational teacher in the south Wales valleys, ran a major printing press and published the main Welsh national newspaper, Y Faner. She also helped to found Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist Party, campaigned tirelessly for the Welsh language, challenged gender stereotypes and restrictions in traditional patriarchal Wales.
However, her main contribution was producing a body of literary work in the Welsh language which makes her rank alongside Saunders Lewis as the greatest Welsh writer of the twentieth century.
Much of her work has been translated into English and other languages and yet she remains today relatively little known and under-appreciated in comparison, for example, with other female contemporaries who wrote in English, such as Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, and Elizabeth Bowen. This volume seeks to redress the balance, bringing the life and work of this extraordinary novelist, playwright, short story writer, journalist, and ardent political campaigner to the attention of the wider world audience that the sheer quality of her writing deserves.
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