Welsh literature: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

In the 18th cent. theological and pedagogical writings dominated, but such authors as Morgan Llwyd, Theophilus Evans, and Ellis Wynn created clear, elegant prose classics. Religious feeling and the interest of the clergy were significant in keeping Welsh poetry alive during the 18th cent. The priest Goronwy Owen and other members of the Morris School attempted to assimilate the early, free cywydd poetry to modern situations. Meanwhile, the great Methodist hymnodists, William Williams (Pantycelyn) and Ann Griffiths, deriving elements from the abundant folk verse (penillion), created a more personal poetry in free meters. They were a potent influence on the 19th-century lyric poets, Ceiriog (John Ceiriog Hughes) and Islwyn.

Improved popular education, as sponsored by the Welsh-language publications of the Society for the Dissemination of Christian Knowledge, and increased Welsh political consciousness, as exemplified in the 19th cent. by the writings of Daniel Owens (the Welsh Dickens), gave rise to a literary revival that reached a high point in the 20th cent. In addition, the Welsh poetic revival, which produced both nationalist and cosmopolitan works, was tied to the founding in 1872 of the new Univ. of Wales.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Miscellaneous European Literature