Thursday 16 June 2011

Islwyn Ffowc-Elis.

My relationship to this great man is so obscure and distant that I can hardly claim him as 'family'.

But, Islwyn Ffowc-Elis (of Wrexham) was my late mother's cousin, and as I have at least two blog-followers who hail from 'God's own country of Wales', I offer this simply as a matter of interest.

Islwyn's protagonists claim him to be Wales's most important writer 'ever' in the Welsh language (Dylan Thomas wrote in English). He was translated into several other languages, although I have never, myself, ever read a single word that he wrote; maybe I should!

In 1959, 1962, and 1964, he stood as the parliamentary candidate for 'Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist Party) for Montgomeryshire , but failed dismally at each attempt (not surprising). He also became a Presbyterian Minister in 1950 (poor soul), but the less said about that the better.

That's it. That's Islwyn for you! If you're interested in Welsh literature, do feel free to look him up! I believe his books are still available; mostly, of course, are in WELSH. He died in 2004, and I rather regret that we never met.

p.s. Originally his family name was Ffoulkes-Ellis, but being a staunch Welsh Nationalist he changed it to the more authentic sounding Ffowc-Elis. I wonder if anyone noticed; or even really cared?


  1. Hello:
    A fascinating piece of information about a man whom, rather shamefully, we had not previously heard. And, as one of Wales's most celebrated, or at least best known writers, albeit in Welsh, then perhaps we should have known of him. After all, we did live in the Welsh Marches for twenty-five years.

  2. We lived there for a short while also; not far from Oswestry, but on the Welsh side.

  3. Iam only a stones throw from Wrexham... love the name Islwyn....I know at least three in our village!
    shame that most youngsters hereare now called Dean, AND JOSH

  4. I have never heard of him either; We did not do Welsh literature in school, I don't know if they do it now? I can still speak a bit of Welsh - count to ten etc and the town with th e longest name!
    Going back to Llandudno in July - looking forward to it!!!!

  5. I didn't know you had any Welsh in you, Cro. Ask nicely and you could probably have some more.

  6. Only a tad Tom; my mother's father was Welsh. Hence, I suppose, this connection.

  7. That is really interesting, I imagine he would have equally enjoyed telling of his far distant artist 12 times removed cousin ..

  8. Cysgod Y Cryman (Shadow of the Sickle) is really worth reading and is readily available in English. It was voted the Welsh Language book of the century.

    It is a story about a young man (roughly based on the author) from a rural farm going to University and changing his outlook and the conflict this causes at home. It is a really good portrait of Wales at a time when society was being transformed.

  9. Thanks Anon. I'll add it to my next Amazon list.

  10. Hadn't heard of him either, but what an interesting name he has.

  11. Islwyn Ffowc-Elis's other famous work is 'Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd' ('A week in Wales of the future ... Cymru Fydd was also the Welsh name for the Young Wales nationalists movement of the late C19).

    The book follows the story of a Welshman transposed from the Wales of 1957 to Wales of 2033.

    One part of the novel is the 'utopian' version - a rich, vibrant country where everyone can speak Welsh. The other half is the 'distopia' where the author meets the last Welsh-speaker, an old woman in Bala on her death-bed. Wales is a country used for forestry and vacation and is now called Western England. More info:

    The book had a strong influence on the nationalist and linguistic movement in Wales galvinising people to campaign to make sure Welsh didn't die out and that Wales didn't become the West of England.

    The genre of the book is in the same tradition as Theodor Herzl's 'Altneuland' book for the Jewish public in 1902.

    There's a small exhibition on Islwyn Ffowc currently at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. There's also a talk about him by his biographer, Dr Robin Chapman on 29 June.

    The National Library of Wales

  12. Thanks for the introduction, Cro. Fascinating that he is family. I must find some of his writing.

  13. Sion. Thanks for that info'. How strange that there should be a current exhib' also. I wouldn't have been so derogatory about his political and religious careers, had I known!

    Willow. 'Family' is probably too strong a word. Just my mum's distant cousin.

  14. Oh Cro, dear man, you've got to put it into the proper perspective. The gentleman in question is an accomplished writer, so by all means, claim his blood. Now, if he were a horse thief or crooked politician, (forgive the redundancy) THEN you distance yourself by claiming a minimal family connection.

  15. Cro - what can I say! The truth is I am so allergic to Plaid Cymru, I voted Conservative at the last election just to stop the boggers getting in!

  16. Molly. I think that's what every resident of Montgomeryshire did in '59, '62, and '64.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...