Saturday, January 05, 2008

Book of the Month

Yet another worthwhile book from the excellent Herefordshire publisher Logaston, please check here for details.

One of the most annoying things about the many films and television series about Elizabeth Tudor is the way in which they nearly always deny the presence of English regional accents at the Queen's court. Despite the historical inaccuracy everyone is shown as speaking with Received Pronunciation, indeed there was a controversy in the press a few years ago when Mary Queen of Scots was played by a Frenchwoman. A few critics couldn't bear the fact that the actress did not speak RP, even though the historical Mary spoke French and Scots.

These films and television series also exclude the many Welsh speaking individuals at the court of a Queen the historian A. L. Rowse described as a "red-haired Welsh harridan." Not the least among them was Blanche Parry, the Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber, the Queen's companion and confidante for 56 years.

It says a lot about the relationship between Wales and England that this is one of the few English penned books to use Welsh bardic sources to illuminate the history of the period. The author has had nine bardic poems translated and two are quoted in full in the book. It will no doubt come as a surprise to many to learn that Herefordshire south of the Wye - Blanche Parry was from the parish of Bacton - was Welsh in speech in the sixteenth century and beyond; and that the gentry of the area were such great supporters of the bardic tradition.

Many Welsh readers are, of course, aware of all of this, but it is rare indeed see an English book using bardic poems as source material. In the same way it is rare to see a book from Herefordshire that recognizes the Welsh character of large parts of that county.

No comments: