Friday, May 15, 2009

A Builth Writer

Never mind the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, Thomas Prichard, the first Welsh novelist was born in the lively Wyeside town of Builth around 1790. As the correction to the DWB points out, Prichard left Builth in 1839, presumably to return to life as a travelling actor. His wife Naomi and her five small children stayed on in the town where she found employment as a milliner. In 1848 Naomi died, and by the time of the 1851 census, his eldest daughter Tydvil is found living in Broad Street, supporting her sisters and brother by selling books. Edward Poole, a graduate of Cambridge University and the publisher of Prichard's most well known work The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shôn Catti is living next door, in 1841 he had been living with Prichard's wife. One wonders if he was related to Edwin Poole, the founder of the Brecon and Radnor Express.

No doubt selling books proved unsuccessful and Tydvil and her siblings had moved to Cardiff by 1861, where she worked, like her mother, as a milliner. Meanwhile Prichard continued to write on Welsh topics, for example his Heroines of Welsh History, which you can read here. Interestly Prichard's daughters all had names found in the book: Tydvil Nest, Senena (the mother of Prince Llywelyn), Mevanwy (the earliest use of the name in Wales) and Ellen.

By 1861 Prichard had lost his nose in a duel and was living as a recluse in the Swansea slum of World's End. Tormented by gangs of youths, a public subscription by the town's Cambrian newspaper raised enough money to clean Prichard's house and provide him with food and coal. Within five weeks he had fallen into his new fire and burned to death. His daughter Tydvil died in 1869, while Senena Coles lived on in Clare Road, Cardiff, finally passing away at the age of 80 in 1917.


Donal O'Murchadha said...

Buri talosk; djonawdu gyay noos a Daalyon.

kjj said...

Donal, you do realise as the only Irish traveller in the Assembly they can never sack you.

llew buallt said...

Actually latest figures suggest there may be as many as 5 of them in the Assembly.

How nice also to note you're using your new found retirement time to broaden your horizons with articles about people from the Brecknock side of the river.

kjj said...

That's right Lionel I've always thought that Buallt was more Radnor than Brycheiniog. BTW I've got hold of an old book about Builth, do you fancy buying it?

llew buallt said...

So the Radnor criminal fraternity are moving into into kidnap and holding old books to ransom?