Cyril Lakin, a homegrown businessman from Barry who saw the brilliance of Dylan Thomas at twenty-two, had caught the attention of critics and fellow writers alike, therefore it followed that he promoted the work.
'The poet and literary hostess Edith Sitwell eagerly championed this new talent and suggested a review to Lakin, convincing him that Thomas’s new Twenty-Five Poems demonstrated his outstanding potential. Her review was an announcement of a new talent, praising the ‘huge scale’ of his ‘magnificent’ work, its ‘superb’ form, theme, and structure. She ended her review by heaping more praise on the young Welshman. ‘I could not name one poet of this, the younger generation, who shows so great a promise, and even so great an achievement.’
From the rolling hills of Merthyr, an untold story of three brothers: William, Gomer and Seymour Berry. Their father was a Liberal MP and coal owner. 'Seymour built his wealth on the back of the South Wales coal industry.' This family rose from the ashes to assimilate the power of the written word through the newspaper industry namely The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times who stormed the means of distributing the thoughts and opinions of the communities they found themselves in.
'William, the middle brother, who was responsible for their rise in the newspaper industry. At the age of fourteen, after winning an essay competition organised by his local paper, the Merthyr Times, he was given a job as an apprentice reporter and office boy by W. W. Hadley.'
He rose through the ranks to finally get to a place where he could own the newspaper offices themselves.
'They made their first major purchase with the help of James White, a financier and former boxing promoter whom William Berry had once lent £500.00 to avoid possible bankruptcy. Over lunch at the National Liberal Club in 1915, White was able to repay Berry’s generosity by providing funds so that the brothers could carry off the acquisition of the Sunday Times for just £80,000.' This sparring bout of kindness had kept White from bankruptcy in previous years.
'William Berry was constantly thinking about improving circulation and widening its appeal to an informed and educated readership. He knew that his childhood friend Lady Rhondda, who had inherited her father’s title and business interests, had used her wealth to successfully launch Time and Tide, a ground-breaking feminist literary review which encouraged new writing. He now sought to do the same.' This culmination of feminist literary distribution was a revelation for empowering other women to share their concerns more freely.
You can read the full Wales Arts Review here.
Geoff Andrews is Senior Lecturer in Politics at The Open University. His new book, Smooth Operator: The Life and Times of Cyril Lakin, Editor, Broadcaster and Politician has just been published by Parthian in its Modern Wales series.
You can find the link for the book here: