NLW MS 4582C.
Evan Evans (Ieuan Brydydd Hir): Some Specimens of the Poetry of the Antient Welsh Bards ..., &c.
- 1764-[late 18 cent.] (Creation)
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Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg, 1747-1826), stonemason, poet and literary forger, was born 10 March 1747 in Llancarfan, Glamorgan, to Edward Williams (1715-1795), stonemason, and Ann Matthews (1713-1770), and lived for most of his life in Flemingston (or Flimston), Glamorgan, apart from periods spent in London, Kent and elsewhere. His only schooling came from his mother and from the numerous poets who taught him their craft. He worked as a monumental mason and builder. He also tried his hand at various other trades but with little success; he was imprisoned for debt in Cardiff Gaol in 1786. In 1781 Iolo married Margaret Roberts (1749-1827). They had four children, of which two, Margaret (b. 1782) and Taliesin (1787-1847), survived into adulthood. Iolo Morganwg died at Flemingston on 18 December 1826. Iolo had various literary, antiquarian and political interests. He wrote poetry in both Welsh and English, his Poems Lyrical and Pastoral appearing in 1794. He became a Unitarian from about 1797 and wrote many hymns, published in Salmau yr Eglwys yn yr Anialwch (1812, 1827 and 1834). Following the French Revolution he had radical sympathies. However he has become notorious for his forgeries and fabrications. The edition of Dafydd ap Gwilym published in 1789 contained an appendix of additional poems which were in fact written by Iolo. The Myvyrian Archaiology (1801, 1807), of which he was an editor contained many of his fabrications. These forgeries went largely undiscovered until the early twentieth century. His interest in the ancient druids led to his unveiling of the Gorsedd of Bards of Great Britain, which first met on Primrose Hill, London, in 1792. He claimed it to be a miraculous survival from ancient times and it persists as an integral part of the ritual and pageantry of the National Eisteddfod. However it too was invented by Iolo. Following Iolo's death his son Taliesin, a schoolmaster in Merthyr Tydfil, edited his manuscripts and upheld his legacy, apparently completely oblivious to the forgeries.
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Evan Evans (Ieuan Fardd or Ieuan Brydydd Hir, 1731-1788), scholar, poet and critic, was born in the parish of Lledrod, Cardiganshire. Even before he entered Merton College, Oxford, in 1750 Evans had made the acquaintance of such prominent literary and antiquarian figures as the Morris brothers - Lewis, Richard and William - of Anglesey, William Wynn of Llangynhafal and Goronwy Owen. Throughout his clerical career - he was ordained in 1755 - Evans would spend much of his time collecting and copying Welsh manuscripts of literary and historical interest, including poetry from the Red Book of Hergest, all the while making contact with others engaged in the same pursuit such as David Jones of Trefriw, Rhys Jones of Blaenau and John Powel of Llansannan, as well as English antiquaries such as Daines Barrington. In 1764 Evans published his seminal work Some specimens of the Poetry of the Antient Welsh Bards, in which he attempted to interpret the substantial output of Welsh poetry, much of it produced at court, from the sixth to the sixteenth century. Arguably the greatest Welsh scholar of his age, Evans possessed an in-depth knowledge of the contents of Welsh manuscripts in the various private libraries of the time and was well acquainted with the works of the great Welsh scholars from the Renaissance onwards. He realised that the chief requirement of Welsh scholarship in his day and age was the publication of the texts of the principal manuscripts which related to the history and literature of Wales. Although Evans himself ultimately failed in his endeavours to achieve this goal, the brilliant work he did accomplish earned him a position of unquestioned importance within the field of Welsh scholarship.
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The Gorchestion Beirdd Cymru formerly belonged to David Samwell (Dafydd Ddu Feddyg) and was taken with him on the third and last voyage of Captain James Cook (1728-1779), circumnavigator, 1777-1778.
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A copy of Evan Evans (Ieuan Brydydd Hir), Some Specimens of the Poetry of the Antient Welsh Bards translated into English ... (London, 1764, ESTC T145881), bound with Rhys Jones, Gorchestion Beirdd Cymru ... (Shrewsbury, 1773, ESTC T116041). On blank leaves added to the volume and on the margins of printed pages David Samwell (1751-1798) has transcribed poems by himself and by other writers and there are also obituary notices of Welsh poets and others by Samwell, as well as press cuttings and a printed copy of Ode for the First of March, 1791, St. David's Day. Inscribed to the Gwyneddigion Society of London, by Dafydd Ddu Feddyg ([?London], 1791, ESTC T231564). Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg) (1747-1826) has added some notes on Glamorgan bards.
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Welsh, Latin, English
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Preferred citation: NLW MS 4582C
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