Lewis, Saunders, 1893-1985

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Lewis, Saunders, 1893-1985

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Saunders Lewis, dramatist, poet, historian and literary critic, was born in Wallasey, Cheshire to a family of prominent Welsh Calvinistic Methodists. He was educated at a boys's school in Liscard and at Liverpool University, where he studied English and French. His academic career was interrupted by the First World War, in which Lewis served with the South Wales Borderers, but he quickly resumed his studies at the end of the conflict, and, having graduated, worked as librarian in Glamorgan before taking up a post as lecturer in the Welsh department of the University College of Swansea. In 1925, Lewis was one of the pioneering figures involved in establishing the National Party of Wales (later known as Plaid Cymru) and was made President of the fledgeling organisation the following year. Having written about the Roman Catholic church for a number of years, in 1932 Lewis converted to the faith also practised by his wife Margaret. In 1936, Lewis, D. J. Williams and Lewis Valentine set fire to the Royal Airforce's Bombing School in Penyberth on the Lleyn Peninsula, an event which has gone down in the annals of Welsh history and which earned Lewis imprisonment in Wormwood Scrubs and dismissal from his lecturing post in Swansea. He was eventually appointed senior lecturer in Welsh at the University of Cardiff but retired in 1957 to devote his time to writing. Lewis's litarary output is prodigious and he is considered by many to be the most important Welsh literary and political figure of the twentieth century; it is considered that his radio address for 1962, Tynged yr Iaith, was the direct instigating force behind the establishment of the Welsh language movement Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg.

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