May 28, 2008

Biography of the ‘Welsh Gandhi’

(English Translation from the original Welsh launched at the Hay Festival this week) "2006 Welsh Book of the Year winner Rhys Evans has just launched the biography of Gwynfor Evans, hailed by many as the ‘Welsh Gandhi’, at the Hay festival. The launch was chaired by newly appointed Director of Communications to Boris Johnson, Guto Harri. During the event at the Sky Movie stage Rhys was questioned on Gwynfor Evans and his vast contribution to Welsh politics." 2006 Welsh Book of the Year winner Rhys Evans has just launched the biography of Gwynfor Evans, hailed by many as the ‘Welsh Gandhi’, at the Hay festival. The launch was chaired by newly appointed Director of Communications to Boris Johnson, Guto Harri. During the event at the Sky Movie stage Rhys was questioned on Gwynfor Evans and his vast contribution to Welsh politics.


Comparisons were made between the pressure Gordon Brown is presently under to what Gwynfor Evans suffered on numerous periods during his career. But Rhys Evans explained that Gwynfor just kept on going through thick and thin to become one of the main Welsh political figures of the 20th century. Rhys Evans said: “For Gwynfor to be preseident of a nationalist party for 36 is unsurpassed anywhere in Europe as far as I know, except maybe for Tito in the old Yugoslavia!”

Regarding his contribution, Rhys Evans said: “Wales and Wales's position within a devolved UK would be unrecognisable were it not for the labours of Gwynfor Evans over four decades. The central argument of this book is that Gwynfor Evans should be critically regarded as one of the three Welsh architects of post-war Wales. Whilst the lives of the other two key figures, Aneurin Bevan and Lloyd George, have been dispassionately chronicled, this is the first attempt to tell the complex and often tortured story of Gwynfor Evans."

Gwynfor Evans propelled Welsh politics onto the UK stage. He was one of the rare politicians to have forced Margaret Thatcher to make a U-turn, when he threatened a hunger strike to campaign for a Welsh-language TV channel, and was the winner of one of the most famous by-elections when he became Wales’ first nationalist MP. His leadership of the Welsh resistance against the flooding of Welsh valleys gained Plaid Cymru UK-wide publicity, and he is credited with paving the way for our post-devolution UK-politics.

The 500 page hardback book, Gwynfor Evans: Portrait of a Patriot is published by Y Lolfa. The original Welsh version won Welsh Book of the Year award in 2006 and Hywel Williams in The Guardian described Rhys Evans’s “sumptuous new biography” as a “major event”. It has also been described as a “masterpiece, both comprehensive and extremely interesting” by International Politics lecture Dr Richard Wyn Jones.

Author Rhys Evans was born in Carmarthen and raised in Aberystwyth. He graduated at Hertford College, Oxford where he studied Modern History. He’s been a journalist in Cardiff for more than a decade and is currently BBC Wales’ Deputy Head of News and Current Affairs.



Martin Kettle's remarks in the Guardian

Buy the book here


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