The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

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Hwyl and Hiraeth: Richard Burton and Wales

PROFESSOR CHRIS WILLIAMS

Friday 29 November, 2013

Richard Burton (born Richard Jenkins, Pontrhydyfen, Glamorgan, 1925; died Celigny, Switzerland, 1984) is one of the most famous Welshmen of the twentieth century, whose global renown (or notoreity, depending on your point of view) is perhaps only exceeded by that of the equally colourful Dylan Thomas. Following on the publication of the Richard Burton Diaries (Yale University Press, 2012) this lecture by the Diaries’ editor examines the relationship between Richard Burton and Wales. Burton was a proud Welshman who is reputed always to have worn an item of red clothing and to have had a clause in his film contracts excusing him from working on St David’s Day. But what was the real nature of Burton’s relationship with and understanding of Wales? Was he, in more ways than one, a ‘stage Welshman’, with the necessarily distanced and inflexible patriotism of the exile? Drawing on his own words this lecture will explore the interweaving of both hwyl and hiraeth in the life and career of one of modern Wales’s most iconic figures.

About the speaker: Professor Chris Williams

Chris Williams is Professor of Welsh History at Swansea University and Director of the university’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities. Educated at Balliol College, Oxford and at Cardiff University he previously held posts at Cardiff and the University of Glamorgan before joining Swansea in 2005. A specialist in the modern history of industrial South Wales he has written(amongst other topics) on the miners and the political history of the South Wales coalfield, on the utopian industrialist Robert Owen and on Wales and the First World War. His edition of the diaries of the actor Richard Burton is published by Yale University Press in November 2012. Chris is also a Royal Commissioner with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Chairman of the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative and was historical adviser for the BBC / Open University television series ‘The Story of Wales’ (2012).

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