We are lucky in Wales to have so many great poets and authors, past and present - here is a list of just a few:
Internationally renowned children's book writer Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff in 1916 to Norwegian parents. His famous works include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) and Matilda, which have since been made into feature length movies and watched by millions across the world.
Today, to honour his successes we hold an annual Roald Dahl birthday party for children at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff. In 2016, to mark the 100th anniversary, Cardiff was be transformed into the 'City of the Unexpected' following a variety of events and celebrations throughout the summer.
Dylan Thomas is one of our most well known and most brilliant writers. He celebrated Wales in both his work and his life and has left behind some of the best-known poems of the 20th century, including Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night and the play for voices Under Milk Wood.
Dylan Thomas was born and raised in Swansea, which is now home to the Dylan Thomas Centre, a focal point for studies and events based around the life and work of the poet himself. The Centre has a permanent exhibition on Dylan Thomas and his life and hosts the annual Dylan Thomas Festival during October and November.
Today the Dylan Thomas Prize is awarded every two years to recognise the best published writer in English aged 39 or under from anywhere in the world. Dylan's Day is also firmly established in the calendar on 14 May; a great time to remember his works and perhaps inspire future generations to take up poetry.
Dylan 's Boathouse, Laugharne, Wales
R S Thomas
One of the major English language and European poets of the 20th century, Ronald Stuart Thomas is one of Wales' biggest literary figures. With a writing career that spanned around 50 years and produced over 20 volumes of poetry, Ronald was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996, won the lucrative Lannan Literature Prize hosted in the USA and received the Queen's Gold medal for poetry in 1964; the 14th person to do so.
"Thomas's poems are sturdy, worldly creations filled with compassion, love, doubt, and irony. They make one feel joy in being part of the human race." [cited Louis Sasso, Library Journal]
A talented poet, writer, TV presenter and novelist Owen Sheers has been described 'as one of the most exciting talents around'. Sheers was born in Suva, Fiji, but has spent his childhood in Abergavenny. Wales is home to Sheers. Owen's first novel, Resistance is set in a Welsh valley. It tells the story of a remote Welsh village in an imagined alternative 1944, after the fall of Russia and failed D-Day landings.
Jan Morris has travelled to every corner of the earth, yet it is 'the damp, demanding and obsessively interesting country' of Wales which remains her first love.
She has been many things. A soldier, a journalist, a travel writer and a historian. In 1953 she secured one of the century's great scoops - a report of the conquest of Everest. An author of more than 40 books, she has been called the pre-eminent travel writer of our time. In January 2008 The Times named her the 15th greatest British writer since the War.
Jan Morris is a woman of Wales. Of all her achievements, one of her proudest has been her election as a member of the 'Gorsedd of bards' - Wales's cultural elite. When Jan writes about her beloved Wales the reader has a sense of being there too.
Born in Cardiff, Clark became the third National Poet of Wales in 2008. Her work has been translated into ten languages, and she has been awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. Her prize-winning and critically acclaimed poetry is studied throughout the world and her publications include At the Source, A Recipe for Water, Collected Poems, Five Fields and Making Beds for the Dead.
Ifor ap Glyn
Ifor ap Glyn is the current National Poet of Wales. He won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1999 and 2013. He is a Welsh-language poet who was born in London to a Welsh-speaking family. He studied at Cardiff University and was the Children's Poet Laureate for Wales in 2008-2009.
Author of the internationally renowned 'Dark Materials' trilogy, Pulman went to school in Ysgol Ardudwy, Harlech. He produced over 20 children's novels including The Golden Compass, which was adapted for film in 2007, The Haunted Storm, Northern Lights and The Amber Spyglass.
Prolific writer Alexander Cordell took his inspiration from the people and places of South Wales, and in particular the town of Blaenavon. He particularly loved this part of Wales where he lived for many years and wrote his best selling novel 'Rape of the Fair Country' (since translated into 17 different languages). Through detailed research and his evocative writings, he immortalised the people who lived and worked during the Industrial Revolution.
Alexander was proud of his work and wanted people to experience first hand the buildings, landscape and places that inspired him to document a lasting reminder of a land rich in culture and heritage.
Russell T Davies
Welsh television producer and writer. Highly regarded for his successful revival of popular science fiction TV show Doctor Who, filmed in Wales.
Named as one of the ‘16 most influential teenagers in the world’ by Time Magazine. Reekles’ first novel ‘The Kissing Booth’ was downloaded over 19 million times and gained her a three-book contract.
More Welsh writers
- The lines "What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare." may sound familiar but did you know they come from poem Leisure by W H Davies?
- Edward Thomas - Born in England, he considered himself Welsh due to his ancestry. He wrote powerful poems about the Great War and beautiful poems about the countryside, influencing a generation of poets.
- Dafydd ap Gwilym - born near Abergavenny, often regarded as one of Wales' greatest poets
- Dannie Abse - A poet, novelist and physician, who was born in Cardiff and won several awards for his written work. His book ‘The Presence’ was dramatised for BBC Radio 4
- Kate Roberts - Famously known as ‘Brenhines ein llên’ (The queen of our literature). Roberts hailed from Gwynedd and is renowned one of the foremost Welsh-language authors of the twentieth century.
- Jo Walton - Sci-fi author Jo Walton, originally from Aberdare in the south Wales valleys, now living in Canada has won many awards to date for her sci-fi and fantasy novels.
- Ken Follett - Bestselling author Ken Follett was born in Cardiff in 1949 and started his career as a reporter for the South Wales Echo. His novel 'The Eye of the Needle' won the Edger Award in 1979. More recently he published 'The Pillars of the Earth' which was on The New York Times bestseller list for 18 weeks and the German bestseller list for 6 years
- Alun Lewis - Welsh poet Alun Lewis was born in a South Wales mining village called Cwmaman in 1915. He is regarded by many as Britain's greatest poet of the Second World War.
- Allison Pearson - Carmarthen-born author and newspaper columnist. Pearson’s novel ‘I Don't Know How She Does It’ has sold four million copies. The hit movie adaption starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Pierce Brosnan.
- Sarah Waters - Waters comes from Pembrokeshire, South Wales, and is best known for her novels set in Victorian society. Many of her novels have been made into television programmes, such as Tipping the Velvet.
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- Literature Wales
Find out more about our literature from the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society for Authors.