Posted - 04-07-2014 No Comments

Reader Services

History of the Welsh regiments in World War One

The centenary commemoration programme to remember World War One has already began in Wales and further afield. During the next few years it has been anticipated that more and more people will have an interest in this area, therefore, we decided to place a series of books on the open shelves in the North Reading Room in order to help the researchers. The three Welsh Regiments will probably be of most interest to our readers – The Welsh Regiment, The Royal Welch Fusiliers and The South Wales Borderers. The series of books outlining the history of the regiments and their work during World War One, with additional works relating to other Welsh battalions are now on the shelves. I’m sure that there will be many more works produced on the subject over the next few years and we hope to add them to the series. If you have any suggestions for publications we should add please let us know.

Beryl Evans
Research Services Manager


Posted - 26-06-2014 No Comments

Reader Services

Responding to our users comments

We have responded to comments for a more streamlined service when using newspapers at the National Library of Wales by making it possible to access all formats of newspapers in one reading room.
You can now view original copies, microfilm copies and access our new resource, Welsh Newspapers Online, in one dedicated area in the South Reading Room. Staff are on hand to assist you in your search, and to help you to use our new interactive touch table to access Welsh Newspapers Online.
Call in to see us!

Carol Edwards, Head of Reader Services

Posted - 23-06-2014 No Comments


The Fly Fisher’s Legacy

Picture 269After several attempts the Library succeeded recently in purchasing a very rare item that has been on our wants list for many years. It is a copy of The Fly-Fishers Legacy, containing accurate descriptions of all the principal natural flies … by George Scotcher. This volume was published in Chepstow and printed and sold by M. Willett. Although it is undated experts believe that 1810 or 1819 are possible publishing dates. It is bound in a later travel pocket style binding with front fold over flap and has hand-coloured engraved specimen frontis plates. This copy is copy is extra illustrated, possibly by the noted angling collector J.C. Lynn, and interleaved with 13 leaves containing 23 mounted fly specimens. The Fly Fisher’s Legacy is one of the rarest books in angling literature.

Picture 270It is known that there are copies held at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. No doubt that there are a few other copies in private hands. It was the first angling book to contain a coloured plate illustrating some of the insects imitated by anglers. Also it was the first angling book devoted entirely to fly-fishing. Once this item has been accessioned it will be available to readers interested in this field of study to enjoy as well as to carry out further research. I am glad to say that another small but significant gap in the Library’s holdings has been filled.

Gwyn Tudur Davies

Posted - 17-06-2014 No Comments


Chaucer: the story continues!

The pilgrimage is at an end, the covers are gently closed, and our popular exhibition on Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales has finished.

Are you one of those who missed the opportunity to see the show, or did you think of returning for another look, and left it too late? Fear not, for the Library’s exhibitions now have an extended life on the web.

A short film was created to coincide with the exhibition, and we can think of no better way to re-visit Canterbury than in the company of a curator, and from your own comfortable chair in the twenty-first century.





Posted - 16-06-2014 No Comments

News and Events

Welsh Newspapers Online: 100,000 new pages go online

The National Library of Wales is pleased to announce that over 100,000 new pages have been added to Welsh Newspapers Online.


Welsh Newspapers Online is a free online resource from the National Library of Wales where you can discover millions of articles from the Library’s rich collection of historical newspapers.


Welsh Newspapers Online now lets you search and access over 725,000 pages from over 115 newspaper publications and will grow to over 1 million pages as more publications are added during 2014.


The recent update includes new publications such as Y Tyst, Welsh Gazette and Herald of Wales, not forgetting early editions of Seren Gomer (1814-1815). Seren Gomer was founded by Joseph Harris in 1814 and was the first Welsh language weekly to be published in Wales.


Welsh Newspapers Online is part-funded by the Strategic Capital Investment Fund and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.


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Dylan with a difference

On Saturday 28th June 2014, we are so excited to present to our visitors the largest and most comprehensive Dylan Thomas expo as part of the centenary celebrations. Although it has been years in the planning, things are really starting to take shape as we work on the set build and installation over the next couple of weeks!

Visitors will be able to see a variety of original items from the National Collection including photographs, archives, manuscripts, film and art  – some of which have never before been exhibited. The  items will feature in these 4 exhibitions:

  • Dylan: Occupying the prestigious Gregynog Gallery, this multimedia exhibition is a journey into Dylan’s world – a world of poetry, stories, plays and extensive musings – guided by Dylan’s words.
  • Dylan Comes Home: A special exhibition of manuscripts and photographs on loan from The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, New York.
  • Weak or Strong?  The Art of Dylan: Artwork by Dylan, of Dylan and inspired by Dylan.
  • Ach y fi, Ach y fi: A Play for Vices: Visual artists Peter Finnemore and Russell Roberts interpret the dark and mischievous world of Dylan.

Our exhibition team have been working very hard on installing the exhibition which will include a few ‘surprise elements’ and innovative ways of bringing the Dylan Thomas collections to life. Had enough of Dylan Thomas already? Wait till you see what we have in store for you!  Here are a few tasters to whet your appetite…

coronation street     tafarn

Posted - 11-06-2014 No Comments


Weak or Strong?

On this day in 1936, The International Surrealist Exhibition was opened at the New Burlington Galleries in London. During the course of the Exhibition lectures on subjects such as ‘Art and the Unconscious’ and ‘Biology and Surrealism’ were delivered by celebrated surrealists that included Salvador Dalí, André Breton and Hugh Sykes Davies. Dalí’s lecture was delivered whilst wearing a deep-sea diving suit, (to ‘plunge deeper into the subconscious’), who very nearly suffocated.

Dylan Thomas also attended the International Surrealist Exhibition, and whilst there decided to take part. He carried around a teacup of boiled string, asking visitors whether they liked it “weak or strong?”

Although Dylan declared in a letter to Richard Church in 1935, “I wasn’t, never had been, never would be, nor never could be for that matter, a surrealist”, it’s impossible to deny his interest in the Arts. He seemed to gravitate to artistic ‘types’, and was often dabbling with pencils, pastels and paintbrushes himself.

Dylan’s question at the Surrealist Exhibition has inspired an exhibition here at the Library, which will showcase artwork by Dylan, of Dylan, and inspired by Dylan from the National Collection. ‘Weak or Strong?’ : The Art of Dylan will be open to the public between 28 June and 20 December 2014, and feature as part of our Dylan centenary celebrations. The exhibition will feature works by artists such as Mervyn Levy, Alfred Janes, Ceri Richards, Peter Evershed and Dylan himself.


'Dylan Thomas, San Remo N.Y.', © Peter Evershed

‘Dylan Thomas, San Remo N.Y.’, © Peter Evershed

Darlun gan Dylan Thomas / Doodle by Dylan Thomas © David Higham Associates

Darlun gan Dylan Thomas / Doodle by Dylan Thomas © David Higham Associates

'Dylan at Laugharne', Mervyn Levy © Ystâd Mervyn Levy / The Estate of Mervyn Levy

‘Dylan at Laugharne’, Mervyn Levy © Ystâd Mervyn Levy / The Estate of Mervyn Levy













Posted - 09-06-2014 No Comments

Collections / Exhibitions

A postcard from Hereford

Hereford Cathedral LibraryCreating an exhibition takes long-term planning, and careful reconnaissance. Last Friday, Timothy Cutts, our Rare Books Librarian, and I took a trip to Hereford Cathedral Library. Our mission? To carry out research in advance of next year’s proposed exhibition on ‘Sir John Prise and the first Welsh books’.

Who was Prise, I hear you ask? In a nutshell, he was one of Henry VIII’s ablest agents, a Welshman employed by the King to fill the royal coffers with the proceeds of dissolved monasteries. However, Prise was far more than a mere well-connected accountant: he was learned, cultured, and a tasteful book collector. Many fine monastic manuscripts found their way into his private collection.

Timothy Cutts

Why then a visit to Hereford? Prise’s final years were spent in that town, and it is believed that he lies buried in her Cathedral. Furthermore, many of his priceless books were bequeathed to the remarkable Cathedral Library, where they remain chained to their historic shelves. Hence our Friday mission: we are tentatively hoping to bring some of Price’s treasures on a visit to Wales.

But what of those ‘first Welsh books’? It was John Prise who ‘rescued’ our own Black Book of Carmarthen from St David’s during the early 1540s, the earliest surviving Welsh manuscript. It was also Prise who published the first Welsh printed book, Yny lhyvyr hwnn, in 1546.Hereford Timothy Cutts open manuscript


One man and his books may well be one of the highlights of 2015 at the National Library of Wales. We shall endeavour to keep you abreast of developments.

Maredudd ap Huw
Manuscripts Librarian

We can both recommend Hereford Cathedral and its chained library as a place worthy of a summer outing!

Posted - 06-06-2014 No Comments

News and Events

Picturing Dylan

As part of DylanThomas100, the year-long celebration of the birth of Dylan Thomas, the Library will stage a major multi-media exhibition in conjunction with a series of newly commissioned showcase events.

The exhibition will run across several of the Library’s gallery spaces and will provide a unique opportunity to celebrate the life and work of this iconic Welsh literary figure.  Visitors will experience an extraordinary insight into Dylan’s world of poetry, stories, plays and extensive musings, guided by Dylan himself.  This multimedia exhibition will include never before exhibited manuscripts from the Library’s collection, as well as never before seen items on loan from the United States, and interactive experiences for all ages.

Located in Aberystwyth, The National Library of Wales serves as the collective long-term memory for Wales, and its collections are vast and varied and free to access. With thousands of Dylan Thomas related materials in the collection, the Library is a key venue for Dylan Thomas enthusiasts and researchers, and is also an entry point for people to learn about his work and life.
The Library has received funding for various artistic events and activities -such as new artistic interpretations, theatre performances, dance and poetry workshops – with the generous assistance from DT100 & the Scottish Power Foundation. This will take the exhibition and the Dylan Thomas collections to another level in terms of fresh interpretations and community involvement.


One of these projects is Picturing Dylan.The Poets Damian Walford Davies & Rhian Edwards will provide an opportunity to engage in innovative and exciting ways with the poetry of Dylan Thomas.

In the inspiring environment of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (which has kindly offered its space and some of its exhibits for the occasion), two poets and seasoned teachers – Damian Walford Davies and Rhian Edwards – will introduce Ysgol Trelai pupils to a range of Dylan’s imaginative worlds through the portal of visual images and objects from the Museum’s collections. Drawing text and image together in ways that will absorb and liberate young minds, this session will appeal to pupils’ visual imaginations and their delight in various forms of storytelling. From images of the poet himself to objects that conjure his life and work, and from maps to photographs, Picturing Dylan will bring Dylan Thomas’s legacy alive in new and relevant ways.
The young students will work, in groups, towards the production of word-and-image “posters” that will be displayed as part of the main exhibition at the Library.

Posted - 26-05-2014 No Comments


Private lives of the Myddeltons

The recently catalogued Plas Power Estate Records and Papers contain a wealth of information about the minutiae of every aspect of estate management in north-east Wales, as well as literary, antiquarian and political papers, and they also provide some fascinating insights into the private lives of the Myddelton family of Chirk Castle.


Among them is an account by Mary Myddelton (1688-1747) of what happened when her cousin, Robert Myddelton, declared passionate love for her and claimed that she had agreed to marry him. Driven by resentment against his ‘base Ungenerous’ behaviour, she recorded her feelings, the advice given by friends and relatives (which ‘proved very Fatall to me’), the difficulty of handling the matter in family circles, Robert’s pursuit of her, her attempts to avoid him, awkward meetings in the dining room at Chirk Castle, the rift that grew between them as she ‘used him like a Footman’ and forbade him to come to Chirk, futile attempts by family members to patch things up, and attempts to keep the whole affair quiet in order to avoid public scandal. Robert was eventually required to draw up a grovelling document denying that Mary had ever agreed to marry him. Despite their family ties, she never spoke to him again.


Picture 141

Robert Myddelton’s retraction and apology (Plas Power F6/3)


One of the most poignant and tantalising items I’ve come across in any archive is a small rusty key, apparently from Chirk in the early eighteenth century, with these words on its wrapper: ‘ye key of ye little box with all ye childrens things’. The box, the things and the children are all long gone, but the key allows the imagination to glimpse a long-vanished and intimately private world of childhood.


Picture 142

‘ye key of the little box’ (Plas Power F6/6)



David Moore (Archivist)

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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