Celebrating Welsh Writers

Whether you’re a bookworm, a writer or a lover of all things Welsh, come and celebrate these writers with me.

  1. Dave Lewis
Image: Amazon

Dave Lewis is a writer, poet and photographer based in Pontypridd. His work includes novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction publications spanning across a variety of genres.

Not only is Lewis a #1 Amazon Best Seller and award-winning writer; he’s also an active supporter of the Welsh writing community. In 2007, Lewis set up the first ever Welsh Poetry Competition and, in 2019, he created the Writers of Wales database to showcase the talents of his fellow writers.

You should read: Lewis’ Hagar trilogy, a series of crime novels set in various locations around the UK (including South Wales) and Kenya. A series of thrilling whodunnits, the Hagard novels explore the potential dangers of technology when it gets into the wrong hands.

2. Rachel Trezise

Image: BBC

Rachel Trezise is an author, playwright and non-fiction writer from Cwmparc. Her first publication, In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl, saw her dubbed the ‘new face of literature’ by Harpers & Queen in 2003. Since then, Trezise has contributed stories to the anthologies Wales Half Welsh, Urban Welsh: New Welsh Fiction and Sideways Glances, and wrote the play Cotton Fingers for National Theatre Wales’ Love Letters to the NHS season. Trezise is also known for her non-fiction book Dial M for Merthur, which recounts her experience touring with the Welsh rock band Midasuno.

You should read: Fresh Apples, a collection of ‘observational and darkly comic’ short fiction depicting life in South Wales’ mining communities. This book won the Dylan Thomas Prize for writers under 30 in 2006.

3. Patience Agbabi

Born in London, Agbabi spent her teenage years living in Colwyn Bay. After studying English at Oxford University and achieving an MA from Sussex University, Agbabi was appointed Associate Creative Writing Lecturer at the University of Wales.

Agbabi is best known for her performance poetry, which often engages with themes of racial and gender identity. Agbabi’s first poetry collection, R.A.W., won the Excelle Literary Award in 1997. She has since featured on the Poetry Book Society’s list of Next Generation Poets and was appointed Canterbury Festival’s Laureate in 2010.

You should read/watch: Telling Tales, which offers a modern take on the characters from The Canterbury Tales and was included on the shortlist for the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry. Agbabi continues to perform Telling Tales in literary festivals across the UK, which means you still have a chance to go and watch it!

4. Hannah Tovey

Image: Cato and Macro

Hannah Tovey was born in Wales and raised in Hong Kong. She completed The Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course in 2018 and went on to publish her novel The Education of Ivy Edwards, which she wrote whilst she was still studying.

Tovey’s debut novel, published in 2020, has received many positive reviews from authors such as Nicola Mostyn and Francesca Hornak and has been described as “Fleabag meets Gavin and Stacey.” Tovey is currently working on a sequel.

You should read: The Education of Ivy Edwards, of course! This novel is packed with Ivy’s misadventures as she comes to terms with a recent break-up and tackles hiraeth* for her home in the Welsh valleys.

5. Stevie Davies

Image: steviedavies.com

Stevie Davies comes from Morriston, Swansea and is a novelist, literary critic, biographer and historian. Alongside working as a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Swansea, Davies has published an abundance of fiction and non-fiction titles, which include works on the Brontë sisters and critical responses to Shakespeare’s plays.

Davies’ debut novel, Boy Blue, won the Fawcett Society Book Prize in 1987. Davies was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1998 and is also a fellow of Yr Academi Gymreig (the Welsh Academy).

You should read: The Element of Water, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001 and won the 2002 Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year award. An exploration of familial ties and cultural identity, this novel is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction.

6. Ken Follett

Image: ebay

Ken Follett is best known for his thriller and historical fiction novels and has sold over 160 million copies of his works. The Cardiff-born author published his first novel, Eye of the Needle, when he was 27 years old. This book soon became an international best seller and went on to win the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel. In 1981, the book was adapted into a feature film starring Donald Sutherland as its protagonist.

Follett’s other works include his Kingsbridge novels (a series of four thriller novels set in an English village during the Anarchy), as well as his Century trilogy, which centres around five families’ experiences of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the Suffragette movement.

You should read: Jackdaws, a thriller novel set during World War II which won the Corine Literature Prize in 2003. This novel follows the experiences of a group of women parachuted into France to destroy a vital telephone exchange.

7. Alys Conran

Originally from North Wales, Alys Conran has worked as a youth worker, teacher and in community arts. She is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing at The University of Bangor. Following the success of her critically-acclaimed novels Pigeon and Dignity, Conran was appointed the Hay Festival International Fellow for 2019–20.

Image: Hay Festival

In addition to her novels, Conran has published short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction, creative essays and literary translations. Having spent time living in Barcelona, Conran speaks Spanish and Catalan as well as Welsh and English.

You should read: Conran’s debut novel, Pigeon, which won several awards including Wales Book of the Year, the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Awards and The Wales Arts Review People’s Choice Award. It was also shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and longlisted for the Author’s Choice First Novel Award. From the Margins describes Pigeon as ‘an extraordinary book about people, place, language and culture.’

8. Catrin Collier

Image: Wikipedia

Catrin Collier, whose given name is Karen Jones, has been writing under this pen name since 1992, when she published the novel Hearts of Gold. She has also published works under the names Katherine John/ K. A. John, Katherine Hardy and Caro French.

Collier’s publications include short stories, plays and non-fiction as well as novels. Her work has been published in magazines such as Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman’s Weekly.

You should read: Collier’s Hearts of Gold series of historical fiction novels, which are set in her home town of Pontypridd. The series’ first instalment was adapted into a BBC drama in 2003.

9. Owen Sheers

Image: Hay Festival

Owen Sheers is a highly-acclaimed poet, novelist and playwright. Born in Suva, Fiji and raised in Abergavenny, Sheers went on to study at Oxford University before completing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Sheers currently works as a Professor of Creativity at Swansea University.

Sheers’ notable works include two film-poems for the BBC: The Green Hollow, which marked the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster, and To Provide All People, which he wrote to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Sheers has also published two poetry collections (The Blue Book and Skirrid Hill) which earned him the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award. Sheers’ first novel, Resistance, has been translated into 11 languages and adapted into a film, for which he co-wrote the screenplay.

You should read/watch: To Provide All People, which captures individual experiences of the NHS, including those of patients, porters, surgeons and midwives. The BBC’s star-studded production shows off the talents of Michael Sheen, Tamsin Greig and Meera Syal, amongst others. If you can’t access the film version, it is also available to buy in print.

10. Leonora Brito

Image: Wales Arts Review

Raised in Tiger Bay, the late Leonora Brito was a short fiction writer whose talent led her to win the Rhys Davies Literature Prize and the Stand International Short Story Competition.

Her first short story collection, Dat’s Love, consists of twelve stories which highlight various experiences from Wales’ Afro-Caribbean community across different time periods. In 2006, Brito published another short story collection entitled Chequered Histories, which engages with similar themes of cultural identity. Brito also successfully wrote for TV and radio and her work was frequently featured on BBC’s radio shows.

You should read: Dat’s Love. Originally published in 1995, Parthian Books recently released a new edition of the short story collection as part of their Library of Wales series. An emotive and witty read, Dat’s Love garnered critical acclaim for its vibrant and observational style of writing.

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*Hiraeth: a Welsh word meaning a deep longing for something, often used to describe homesickness

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