'This series of books (the Library of Wales) seem to be grant funding at its best – stepping in where the market wouldn’t and giving Welsh people today a much needed reminder that there is more to our history than Dylan Thomas.'
– the Independent Report for Support for Publishing and Literature in Wales, Chaired by Professor Medwin Hughes
Leonora Brito’s collection of short stories Dat’s Love is the latest book published in the Library of Wales classics series.
Leonora Brito was a writer of exceptional stories. Her professional creative life covered a relatively short time, from the early 1990s to her death in 2007, during which she produced an acclaimed collection of short fiction, Dat’s Love, in addition to writing for radio and television. Her stories are unique in Welsh Fiction in that they present an insider’s perspective on a Black History and culture of Wales.
It is a classic collection and will be joined in October by Rachel Trezise’s seminal novel of 1990s Valleys Wales In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl. There is a strong link between the two writers, Leonora was one of two editors to work as a mentor to Rachel Trezise on her first novel (the other was Stevie Davies). Leonora had already won the Rhys Davies Award, Rachel was to win the Orange Futures Award and the inaugural Dylan Thomas Prize with her first two books.
The Library of Wales series has just been praised by the recent Welsh government report on literature in Wales, when discussing the impact effective public support can make to publishing, and through that to Wales and to wider culture.
'One example of the contribution that can be made is the Library of Wales initiative, edited by Dai Smith and published by Parthian. This has been a popular and valuable rediscovery of the largely forgotten Anglo Welsh literature of the past century. This series of books seem to be grant funding at its best – stepping in where the market wouldn’t and giving Welsh people today a much needed reminder that there is more to our history than Dylan Thomas.'
– The Independent Report for Support for Publishing and Literature in Wales, chaired by Professor Medwin Hughes
With the books in the Library of Wales series reaching over 65,000 sales perhaps it is worth assessing the original aims of the series, outlined by Professor David Smith, CBE, at the start of the project and featured in all our books: 'The Library of Wales is a Welsh Government project designed to ensure that all of the rich and extensive literature of Wales which has been written in English will now be made available to readers in and beyond Wales. Sustaining this wider literary heritage is understood by the Welsh Government to be a key component in creating and disseminating an ongoing sense of modern Welsh culture and history for the future Wales which is now emerging from contemporary society. Through these texts, until now unavailable or out-of-print or merely forgotten, the Library of Wales will bring back into play the voices and actions of the human experience that has made us, in all our complexity, a Welsh people.'
From the beginning of the project, to now in the Summer of 2017, the Library of Wales has made a significant impact on the literary culture of Wales. Since 2007 the books published in the series have fired a new engagement with a Welsh nation reflecting on its history and culture. Books have been read, reviewed and discussed but there have also been plays, television and radio dramas and documentaries, art exhibitions, studies from GCSE through to A level, undergraduate exams and post-graduate research. The Library of Wales has provided a framework for argument, discussion and enjoyment of a literature uniquely about Wales and of course the human condition.
Going forward, Parthian's aim is to continue to emphasise the range and quality of this unique series, with events and resources focusing on the books and authors.
Some recent highlights:
Old Soldiers Never Die by Frank Richards sold across the world as an ebook and print edition with over 5000 sales in 2016 alone. A play of the work of Frank Richards has been commissioned.
Farewell Innocence and Old Soldiers Never Die serialised in the Western Mail
Border Country to be translated into Italian
Selected stories from Story I to appear in a Japanese edition through the Raymond Williams Fellowship
Border Country exhibition curated by Peter Wakelin tours nationally
Border Country, Autobiography of a SupertrampÂ by W. H Davies andÂ CarwynÂ by Alun Richards all in third or fourth editions.