Fri, 25 Sep 09 14:18:00
On 17 October 2009 some of the finest nature writers in Britain will be in the ancient capital of Wales, Machynlleth for a new one-day festival to commemorate and celebrate the work of the writer and naturalist Bill Condry. The writers range from Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, to the broadcaster and singer Mike Harding. The Guardian is a Media Partner to the festival, which is also being supported by Academi and The National Library of Wales – the latter being home to Bill Condry’s personal archive.
The festival, which is being held at The Tabernacle, follows the very successful evening event held last year to mark the 10th anniversary of Bill Condry's death.
Bill Condry contributed to the Guardian's Country Diaries for over 40 years. John Vidal, the Guardian's Environmental Editor, will chair the festival’s morning session and will discuss this long-running column with two of the present Country Diarists, Paul Evans, who writes about the area around his home in Wenlock Edge and Jim Perrin, who has written the diaries from Wales following Bill Condry’s death.
The event hosts a collection of speakers as varied as the topography that Bill so loved. There will be discussion on poetry and nature as Ian Gregson concentrates on the work of the American poet, Mary Oliver.
The Annual Bill Condry Lecture on the theme of Nature and The Welsh Tradition will be delivered by poet and Bangor University lecturer, Gwyn Thomas. There will also be readings and a discussion chaired by writer Jon Gower with Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, Dr Damian Walford Davies of Aberystwyth University’s English Department, and Ian Gregson. The afternoon will conclude with the broadcaster Mike Harding talking about the journey from his childhood in the cobbled streets of industrial Manchester to his house in the West of Ireland and his love of the wild places of the world.
The evening will see the screening of A Wilderness World, a lecture and audio-visual presentation by Cameron McNeish, broadcaster, writer and editor of The Great Outdoors magazine.
‘The Welsh landscape and people made as indelible a mark on Bill Condry as his writings and travels on the thousands of his dedicated readers. The Condry Festival is therefore a celebration of Bill’s work and also of the living, breathing landscape that is so magnificent and yet so fragile. With its location in an area of such diverse landscape, Machynlleth, the historic capital of Wales, is the ideal venue for such a special event,’ said Andrew Green, Librarian of The National Library of Wales and chair of one of the festival’s sessions.
Tickets may be booked through the The National Library of Wales shop, Aberystwyth:
01970 632 548 www.llgc.org.uk/drwm
or The Tabernacle: 01654 703 355
Sara Branch, The National Library of Wales: 01970 632 839
Siân Northey: 01766 522 765
Notes to Editors:
William Moreton Condry (1918-1998), was born in Birmingham, but from his youth he was fascinated by the natural history of Wales. His early career involved him with Ronald Lockley, the West Wales Field Society and the Field Studies Council Centre at Dale Fort. He edited the journals, Field Notes and Nature in Wales, and with his wife Penny, joined the newly formed Kite Committee. He enjoyed a long association with the Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory, and in 1969 he became the first warden of the RSPB nature reserve at Ynys-hir near Machynlleth. In addition to his field activities, he was engaged in lecturing, broadcasting, committee work and literary pursuits.
His books, often illustrated with his own photographs, included Thoreau, The Birds of Cardiganshire, The Snowdonia National Park, and The Natural History of Wales. He wrote widely for magazines such as Country Life and was particularly renowned for his 'Country Diary' articles, published in the Guardian between 1957 and 1998.
His professional interests brought him into contact with Mary Richards, E.H.T. Bible and R.S. Thomas.
His life as a naturalist and writer is reflected by his personal archive, the William Condry Papers, held at the National Library of Wales. From the notes, diaries, articles and correspondence there emerges the image of a man passionately and wholly committed to the world of nature.