November 12, 2011 marks the the centenary of the birth of one of the great figures in twentieth-century Wales. Pennar Davies was a coal miner’s son, who was born into sheer poverty in Mountain Ash. Educated there, he later obtained a double First Class Honours degree at University College, Cardiff before attending Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained a B.Litt. He spent the next three years at Yale University in the United States which awarded him a Ph.D. After another year at Cardiff he returned to Oxford, this time to Mansfield College. He was ordained into the Christian ministry at Minster Road Congregational Church, Cardiff in 1942.
In 1946 Pennar was appointed Professor of Church History at Bala-Bangor College before undertaking a similar post at the Congregational Memorial College, Brecon, in 1950. He served as college’s principal until his retirement. Pennar Davies, who learned Welsh as a teenager, became a leading figure in the literary life of Wales as a poet, novelist and writer.
To mark this centenary, Y Lolfa is publishing two books by former students of Pennar Davies: Saintly Enigma, a biography of Pennar Davies in the English language by the Rev. Ivor Thomas Rees of Sketty, and Diary of a Soul, a translation of Pennar Davies’ great spiritual classic Cudd fy Meiau [Hide my sins], by the Rev. Herbert D Hughes, a former lecturer at Trinity College, Carmarthen. A foreword to this volume has been written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The two volumes will be launched at Christwell United Reformed Church, Manselton, Swansea on Saturday, 1 October at 10.30 a.m. Sadly, Rev. Hughes passed away at his Brecon home a few months ago.
The main speakers at the launch will be Professor D Densil Morgan, Professor of Theology at the University of Wales, Trinity St David’s and author of Pennar Davies’s Welsh-language biography, and Professor M Wynn Thomas, Professor of Welsh Writing in English at the University of Swansea.