As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. In this weekly blog – ‘Revealing the Objects‘, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.
Here’s a selection of novels and prosaic works that will be digitized as part of the project.
Anna Maria Bennett – Anna, or, Memoirs of a Welch heiress, 1785
Anna Maria Bennett was an eighteenth century Welsh novelist. She spent most of her early years in Merthyr Tydfil. During her life-time, Bennett wrote a total of seven popular novels including ‘Anna, or Memoirs of a Welch Heiress’.
Thomas Jeffery Llewelyn Prichard – The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shôn Catti, descriptive of life in Wales: interspersed with poems, 1828
Thomas Jeffery Llewelyn Prichard was a travelling actor and author. Prichard is mostly known for his tale, entitled ‘The adventures and vagaries of Twm Shôn Catti’. The volume was a financial success and was recognised by some as Wales’s first ever novel; a comment that sparked later debate. This 1828 first edition, printed at Aberystwyth, was his crudest version in terms of content and style. It was reformed and improved in two later editions, printed in 1839 and 1873.
Roger Edwards – Y Tri Brawd a’u Teuluoedd, 1869
Roger Edwards was an ordained minister with the Calvinist Methodists; he was also a devoted editor and writer. As editor of ‘Y Drysorfa’ ( 1847-86; jointly with John Roberts until 1853), he made the decision to publish, in serial form, his own novels in the publication, starting with ‘Y Tri Brawd’ in 1866. Edwards’s aim was to allay Methodist suspicion of fictional literature and thus he paved the way for Daniel Owen, who ‘discovered’ the Welsh novel, inducing him to contribute ‘Y Dreflan’ to that journal.
Elizabeth Amy Dillwyn – The Rebecca rioter: a story of Killay life, 1880
Amy Dillwyn was a novelist, industrialist and activist that spent most of her life in her home city of Swansea. ‘The Rebecca rioter’ was the writer’s first novel and is recognised as her best work. It tells the story of a famous attack on the Pontardulais toll gate by the Rebecca Rioters. The novel is written from a rioter’s perspective, and the author’s support to their cause is evident. Amy Dillwyn’s novels also focused on the rank of women in Victorian society, it is no surprise therefore that she was an avid supporter of the Women’s Freedom League.
Daniel Owen – Profedigaethau Enoc Hughes, 1891
Daniel Owen is one of Wales’s most noted novelists. In his childhood he received little education and during his early career he worked at a tailor’s shop. In 1865 Owen went to Bala C.M. College, he did not excel as a student, however he was well read and took great interest in English literature. At the request of Roger Edwards, he contributed his first novel – ‘Y Dreflan’, chapter by chapter in ‘Y Drysorfa’, a Calvinist Methodist publication. Daniel Owen was fond of exploring a Welsh community that revolved around the chapel. However in his third novel ‘Profedigaethau Enoc Huws’ he moved beyond the Methodist seiat and included characters that were on the outskirts of those religious meetings. ‘Profedigaethau Enoc Hughes’ was serialised by Isaac Foulkes in ‘Y Cymro’ between 1890 and 1891. The novel centres on the character Enoc who was raised in a workhouse, but becomes a successful shopkeeper. This comedy tells the story of Enoc’s hopeless love affairs, the peculiar troubles between himself and his housekeeper, and his tumultuous encounters with the Captain Trefor. All of Owen’s publications were significant in the development of the Welsh novel.
Daniel Owen’s second novel ‘Hunangofiant Rhys Lewis, gweinidog Bethel’ will also be digitized as part of the project.
Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer
This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project
As of October 2018 the Library will share a number of additional items from its collections on Europeana, a European digital cultural platform. We are currently working with 12 other partner institutions on a project entitled ‘The Rise of Literacy’ which aims to explore the history of reading and writing in Europe. As a result of this initiative, various users will be able to access a wide range of text based objects, many of which are being showcased on a digital platform for the first time: from manuscripts to printed volumes, periodicals to newspapers.
These items will be explored in various editorial features, all focusing, in one way or another, on the development of literacy in Europe. We as institutions are currently working on a range of curatorial content – from digital exhibitions and blog posts to visual galleries, and these will assess the significance of the text based objects within a pan-European context. The curated features will appear on Europeana Collections from October onward.
This new weekly blog series will reveal the Library’s contributions on a thematic basis. From manuscripts to newspapers, dictionaries to cook books, and children’s literature to ballads; they all have something to offer with regards to tracking the history of literacy. From the iconic to the unexpected, they collectively give a multi-layered summary on the evolution of reading and writing in Wales and beyond, from the mid-thirteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century.
A selection of items: –
The National Library of Wales’s contributions to the project will be disclosed under the following headings in the coming weeks:-
On Wednesday, 10 May, 2017 a fascinating lunchtime lecture by the artist Valériane Leblond and Welsh folklore expert, Peter Stevenson, was held in the Drwm, The National Library of Wales. Valériane introduced her new illustrated map of Wales which is based on the tales found in Peter Stevenson’s new collection of Welsh Folk Tales. With a full house in the Drwm, the lecture was broadcast live via Periscope. You can view the lunchtime lecture, along with other live broadcasts filmed by the Library on Periscope, the live video streaming app.
Valériane Leblond was commissioned by The National of Wales last year to draw up a map of Wales to coincide with celebrations relating to the Year of Legends this year. She worked closely with the author, Peter Stevenson and during the lunchtime lecture pointed out how she was inspired by the tales found in his latest book when drawing her illustrated map of Wales.
Peter Stevenson shared some of the folktales, superstitions and oral anecdotes found in his new book from the tale of ‘The elephant of Tregaron’ to the story of ‘Twm Siôn Cati’ and how they convey the diverse tradition of storytelling. Here is Peter Stevenson, broadcast live following his lunchtime presentation, reading extracts from his Welsh Folk Tales.
To see more live broadcasts from the Library follow us on Periscope.
You can buy a copy of Valériane Leblond illustrated map of Wales and Peter Stevenson, Welsh Folk Tales at the Library shop.
Since 2015, The National Library of Wales has been using a platform called Periscope for broadcasting live events such as lunchtime lectures, conversations with curators and Library gallery tours.
But how many of you know what is Periscope?
Well, quite simply, Periscope is a platform for live video streaming. It’s owned by Twitter which means you can transfer your live recording to your Twitter and Periscope followers through this platform. You will receive a notification every time someone you follow will do a live broadcast.On the Periscope app there is a ‘World Map’ tab which shows you where all the live broadcasts are taking place at that moment around the world.
Along with watching live streams, Periscope also allows you to like what you see on the screen by sending hearts to the broadcaster and it’s also possible to send live comments on any given broadcast.
A tweet is sent automatically on Twitter to announce when someone you follow goes live on Periscope. It’s possible to click on that link in the twitter stream to watch the broadcast. As you already know the Library has 2 Twitter accounts – 1 for the Welsh stream and one for the English stream and the same is true of the Library’s Periscope accounts. The live broadcasts in Welsh will be advertised on our Welsh Twitter feed and the English broadcasts on our English Twitter feed.
Since releasing live broadcasts on Periscope the Library has learned several important lessons. We have discovered that the most popular broadcasts have been short videos containing conversations with staff about a particular item(s) in the collections or gallery tours of different exhibitions held here. Nevertheless we have also filmed several lunchtime lectures in our auditorium, Drwm. With just under 100 seats it means that many more people can have access to our lectures, more often than not, from the luxury of their own living room!
The process of filming however has not been an easy process all of the time. We have experienced several technical problems during filming. On one occasion, without much warning, everything went dark on the screen and we could not rectify the problem. On another occasion the quality of the sound was poor but with every new broadcast we continue to learn and thereby (hopefully!) improve. We have recently purchased new equipment especially for filming live broadcasts and that too will hopefully improve the quality of our recordings.
We are still learning about the art of creating live broadcasts that are interesting and valuable to our audience. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our coverage or if you would like us to film a specific topic or aspect of our work then you can contact us.
Now that you know what Periscope is I hope you will follow us on Twitter/Periscope and look out for those notifications that we are going live!
Half a century after the tragic Aberfan disaster two exhibitions are held at The National Library of Wales to commemorate those who lost their lives in one of the worst mining disasters in Wales during the 20th century.
Here’s a video which was broadcast live on Periscope, on 17 October 2016, which gives us an insight into what’s available in our ‘Aberfan: Black October‘ exhibition.
The second exhibition, ‘Aberfan: The Days After’ is a collection of photographs by I. C. Rapoport. These black and white photographs, poignantly illustrate the thoughts and feelings of the community in the days following the tragedy.
Both exhibitions will be shown in the Library until 14 January 2017.
To view more live broadcasts from the Library follow us on:
Several years ago the National Library of Wales digitised around five thousand paintings, sketches, engravings and prints of Welsh landscapes mostly dating from 1750-1850.
Many of these are accurate topographical representations which are of huge value to historians, conservationists and archaeologists, whilst others are romanticised artistic works which simply capture the beauty of the Welsh landscape and aspect of Welsh life in a time before the invention of the camera.
As Wikipedian in Residence, making this collection available to Wikipedians was one of my first priorities, and now the entire collection is being released into the public domain and uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.
Already these fantastic images of castles, high streets, churches, ruins, and more, are being added to Wikipedia articles.
Events will soon be held to make more use of these images on Wikipedia, enriching the history of Wales on the world’s most used encyclopaedia.
Browse through the images here and please let us know if you are interested in helping us by adding these images to Wikipedia articles.
A plan of a first bridge to be constructed between Anglesey and mainland Wales. 1820
Historical newspapers; column after column of minute and unimposing text interspersed with what, presumably, were meant to be images. Until recent times searching old news for something specific was like searching for a proverbial needle in a hay stack. In Wales that all changed in 2013 when the National Library of Wales launched a beta version of its free Welsh Newspapers Online website. Using the latest technology the text of hundreds of newspaper titles were thrust into the digital sphere. Long forgotten tit-bits and obituaries, headlines and controversies were made fully searchable, unlocking a vast vault of knowledge.
Now the National Library has replaced the beta version with a slick new interface with plenty of new features and an additional 400,000 pages, bringing the total to over 1 million. To test the power of this immense archive I performed a simple search for one of my Victorian ancestors. The little I knew about him came from my Grandmother who recalls childhood stories of her great grandfather, the son of an Irish immigrant, a watchman on Barry Docks who whistled whilst he worked, and a man she claimed hung himself on the back of his bedroom door, because he thought God had forgotten him. What could all this technology tell me about dear old Tom Foley?
The new interface for the Welsh Newspapers website
I searched for ‘Thomas Foley’ and limited my search to Glamorgan papers and found myself with hundreds of possible hits. Some were not relevant but I had definitely found my Great Great Great Grandfather. Working through the results chronologically the earliest record I found was 1890. He was a rigger living in Penarth, and a member of the Cardiff Riggers and Boatman Union. In a letter to the Western Mail he bemoaned that a recent meeting was ‘more like a bedlam than a meeting of sane men’
But quarrelsome men were soon the least of Foley’s problems. On April 3rd 1891 the Barry Dock news reported a ‘Serious accident to a rigger at Barry Dock’. Some months later Foley gave his own account of the accident;
‘On the day after Good Friday I was working on the SS. Emilie in Barry Dock, when I accidentally fell from a ventilator backwards down the empty bunker hatch, from the top to the bottom…When I recovered consciousness I found myself on the deck with a number of men around me’
A panoramic view of Barry Docks 1901. NLW tir03330
Foley had survived his fall but would never work as a rigger again. He was taken at once to Cardiff infirmary where he was diagnosed with a fractured hip. Then, he complains;
‘I lay there for a fortnight without any further examination, or even a lotion or liniment, or anything whatever to alleviate my pain, although I was complaining daily’.
The poor man was then discharged and lay bed-bound for several months with one of his legs ‘two inches longer than the other’. Thankfully for us, his affliction gave him even more time to write, as his letters to the Barry Dock News come thick and fast. Following the horrors he faced at the Cardiff Infirmary he began to campaign for a local hospital to serve the busy and dangerous docks.
He wrote to thank the manager of the SS. Emile who presented him with £25 to start him in some kind of business. But instead he found work as a Watchman, just like my Grandmother recalled. I figure he spent the money on books, as he soon begins quoting Greek history and Shakespeare in his prolific contributions to the local press. He even donated antique books to Barry Library – all diligently reported in the local papers. In December 1891 he even composed a poem following news that a collection had been raised to support the widows of two friends lost at sea.
A poem written by Thomas Foley in 1891.
In 1895 a report on the ‘Grand Eisteddfod at Barry’ describes the occasion that Foley won a ‘special prize’ in the short hand competition, having taught himself just two months earlier. ‘Mr Foley was enthusiastically greeted as he ascended the platform….and the president remarked that Mr Foley had….emulated some of the most famous scholars of Greece and Rome (Cheers)’. He certainly possessed the Greeks passion for politics. Following his attendance of a political debate Foley lambasted the politicians in a lively open letter. ‘If I am to judge from the observations of the three speakers the conservatives are a most contemptible class, and the liberal unionists is the lowest animal in the scale of creation’ He goes on, in as plain a tongue as you could imagine, to describe the Tories as ‘a very naughty lot of people’.
My search revealed so much material that I could probably write a small book about the trials and tribulations of Mr Foley, and it pains me to omit so much, but every story must have its ending. Everything points to a passionate and driven man. I see him, through my rose tinted specs, as a working class hero, a self-educated immigrant breaking down long established social barriers. So would such a man have taken his own life? Did he really hang from his bedroom door?
In fact, he did not, but the truth is sadly very near to the mark. On Boxing Day 1910, reports the Barry Dock News, Foley hanged himself from his bedpost with a handkerchief. But that is not all. His son, my Great Great Grandfather found his body, and fearing the shame a suicide would bring on the family, cut him down and, with his friend, put him to bed and suggested his father’s ‘weak heart’ was to blame for his demise. The very words spoken in the inquest are recorded in the paper, and the Coroner warned the son that his ‘foolish behavior’ could well see him stand trial for murder. Thankfully though he was eventually cleared and went on to become the Dock Master for Great Western Railways at Barry Docks – another story for another day.
I recon there must be tens if not hundreds of thousands of stories waiting to be discovered amongst metadata and algorithms of one of Wales’ richest and most diverse digital archives. Search for your story today at Newspapers.library.wales
Wikipedian in Residence, National Library of Wales
On the 10th of June 323 BC Alexander the Great lay on his deathbed aged 32 and his vast empire soon fell into turmoil. His legacy is far reaching, but perhaps one of his greatest achievements was the foundation of Alexandria in Egypt.
The Greek, or Hellenistic, culture he seeded there and throughout his realm lead to the creation of the Royal Library of Alexandria. The Library boasted reading rooms, lecture halls, acquisitions and cataloguing departments and was part of a wider ‘Musaeum of Alexandria’.
Over two thousand years ago the Alexandrians paved the way for the modern National Library. Fire famously robbed the ancient world of many of its literary treasures when the great library burned.
Two years ago the National Library of Wales was itself ablaze, very nearly leading to a very Welsh ‘Greek Tragedy’. To celebrate the life of Alexander, the National Library has released digital images of thirty one 15th century decorated illuminations from ‘The Battles of Alexander the Great’.
These images from one of our most treasured illuminated manuscripts have been released into the public domain via Wikimedia Commons where they can be freely accessed, downloaded and used in Wikipedia articles.
Welsh Newspapers Online is a free online resource from the National Library of Wales where you can discover millions of articles from the Library’s rich collection of historical newspapers.
Welsh Newspapers Online now lets you search and access over 725,000 pages from over 115 newspaper publications and will grow to over 1 million pages as more publications are added during 2014.
The recent update includes new publications such as Y Tyst, Welsh Gazette and Herald of Wales, not forgetting early editions of Seren Gomer (1814-1815). Seren Gomer was founded by Joseph Harris in 1814 and was the first Welsh language weekly to be published in Wales.
Welsh Newspapers Online is part-funded by the Strategic Capital Investment Fund and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.
Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.