Revealing the Objects: History Books

Collections / Digitisation - Posted 10-08-2018

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 series – ‘Revealing the Objects, some of the Library’s contributions will be disclosed on a thematic basis.

Here’s a selection of history books that will be digitized as part of the project.

Theophilius Jones – A History of the County of Brecknock (1805)

At the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, many comprehensive texts were written on local history in Wales. This volume by Theophilus Jones however is the most refined and polished of them all. Jones’s account of the history of Brecknock is generally of a scholarly nature and despite its biased tone; it is the most noted record of local history in Wales to be published. Theophilus Jones was the grandson of renowned historian Theophilus Evans.

Thomas Price (Carnhuanawc) – Hanes Cymru, a chenedl y Cymry, o’r cynoesoedd hyd at farwolaeth Llewelyn Ap Gruffydd : ynghyd a rhai cofiaint perthynol i’r amseroedd o’r pryd hynny i waered (1842)

In the first half of the nineteenth century scholarly enthusiasts, mostly clergymen, across Europe, actively wrote histories on the cultures of small or underprivileged nations. Carnhuanawc is the most obvious example of such an individual in Wales. He was inspired by the same ideas as the German philosopher Herder; that all cultures are uniquely significant and valuable. They also shared the belief that such cultures were mostly guarded by the numerous, yet lower and poorer classes. ‘Hanes Cymru’ or ‘A History of Wales to the Death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’ was, and is considered Carnhuanawc’s masterpiece. The publication appeared in fourteen separate volumes between 1836 and 1842. Though the author had an inadequate grasp on the historian’s duties, no other historical work would match that of Carnhuanawc for several years.

Jane Williams (Ysgafell) – A History of Wales derived from authentic sources (1869)

Jane Williams was a London-born historian and miscellaneous writer. She spent many years of her life in Brecon, Wales and as a result developed a friendship with the famous cultural sponsor and supporter Augusta Hall, or Lady Llanover. Thereafter Williams took a great interest in Welsh literature and learnt the language. She published many important volumes including ‘A History of Wales derived from authentic sources’ (1869). This book is a compilation of her most ambitious work, and in spite of its defects, was not superseded until the publication of Sir John E. Lloyd’s researches on the history of Wales at the beginning of the twentieth century.

John Edward Lloyd – A History of Wales: from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest (1911)

John Edward Lloyd was one of Wales’s most noted historians. He was educated at Aberystwyth University and Lincoln College, Oxford, where he successfully obtained a First Class degree in 1883. An academic career soon followed – he was appointed lecturer in History at Aberystwyth University in 1885 and Professor of History at the University College of North Wales, Bangor in 1899. John Edward Lloyd was a medieval specialist and he wrote many comprehensive papers on the early history of Wales. ‘A History of Wales: from the earliest times to the Edwardian conquest’ was published in two volumes in 1911 and is remembered as Lloyd’s great standard work; his masterpiece. It was unique in the sense that its content was compiled through a critical assessment of the sources and thorough scientific research. This book was a turning-point in the study of Welsh history and was arguably the first substantial publication to be considered by professionals as an authoritative assessment on the subject. It is no surprise therefore that some scholars have referred to John Edward Lloyd as the ‘father’ of the study of Welsh history.

Want to see more posts from this series? See below:


Elen Hâf Jones – Digital Access Projects Officer

This post was created as part of the Europeana Rise of Literacy Project

This post is also available in: Welsh

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