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Roland Mathias is a poet, editor, critic and historian.
Roland Glyn Mathias was born in 1915 in Talybont-on-Usk, Breconshire, the eldest of three children of Muriel and Evan Mathias. His mother, a former pupil-teacher, was raised locally, and his father was a native of Llanelli, whose family originated from Carmarthenshire. Evan Mathias served as an army chaplain and spent a number of years abroad during Roland's childhood, and following the First World War the family accompanied him to Germany. On their return to England, Roland Mathias was educated at Caterham School, Surrey, and Jesus College, Oxford, where he graduated with First Class Honours in Modern History, 1936. He completed a B.Litt. thesis on 'The Economic Policy of the Board of Trade 1696-1714', in 1939, and subsequently obtained an M.A., 1944. In 1944 Roland Mathias married Mary Annie (Molly) Hawes, and they have three children, Jonathan Glyn and Mary (twins) and Ceinwen.
Roland Mathias began his teaching career at Cowley Boys' Grammar School, St Helens, in 1938, and was later engaged at the Bluecoat School, Reading, 1942, Carlisle Boys' Grammar School, 1945, and St Clement Danes Grammar School, London, 1946. He was registered to undertake non-combatant duties in support of the war effort in 1940, and imprisoned as a Conscientious Objector on two occasions.
Roland Mathias was appointed Headmaster of Pembroke Grammar School in 1948, and the headmasterships of the Herbert Strutt School, Belper (1958-1964), and King Edward's Five Ways School, Birmingham (1964-1969), followed before he resigned in 1969 to become a full-time writer. During this period Roland Mathias was awarded schoolmaster-fellowships at Balliol College, Oxford (1961), and University College, Swansea (1967), and was a member of several educational bodies and committees.
Roland Mathias's first book of poetry, Days enduring, was published in 1942. Whilst living in Reading in 1944 he founded and co-edited an arts magazine, Here Today, which provided an outlet for his poems and literary criticism. In 1946 his second volume of poetry, Break in harvest, appeared, followed by The roses of Tretower (1952), and The flooded valley (1960). Later volumes of poetry, Absalom in the tree (1971) and Snipe's Castle (1979), were awarded Welsh Arts Council Prizes. In addition, he published a collection of short stories, The eleven men of Eppynt, (1956); historical work such as Whitsun riot (1963); and studies of Anglo-Welsh literature and writers, including his critique of Vernon Watkins for the Writers of Wales series (Cardiff, 1974), The hollowed-out elder stalk: John Cowper Powys as poet (1979), and A ride through the wood: essays on Anglo-Welsh literature (1985). He also edited, and contributed to, numerous other works. During 1949 Roland Mathias appointed Raymond Garlick as an English teacher at Pembroke Dock, and both were among the group who established the Dock Leaves Press and the magazine Dock Leaves (later known as The Anglo-Welsh Review). He became a prolific contributor to this journal, and succeeded Raymond Garlick as editor from 1961-1975.
Roland Mathias was a part-time lecturer in the Extra-Mural Department of the University of Cardiff between 1970-1977, and made several tours abroad as a visiting lecturer to universities in Brittany (1970), the United States and Canada. He was elected a member of the Welsh Arts Council, 1970-1979, and Chairman of its Literature Committee, 1976-1979, and also served as Chair of Yr Academi Gymreig (English Language Section), 1975-1978. He was honoured by the Welsh Arts Council in 1968 for services to writing in Wales, and in 1985 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa by the University of Georgetown, Washington DC.
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