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Celebrating Dic Penderyn with a biography, book launch and concert

On 13th August 1831 Richard Lewis, a 23-year old miner also known as Dic Penderyn, was hanged outside Cardiff Gaol as an example after the 1831 Merthyr Rising workers’ revolt. Innocent of the crime he’d been charged with, he was hailed a martyr of the budding labour movement.

This week sees the publication of the first full biography of this iconic figure – Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr by Sally Roberts Jones. A book launch and concert have been organised in Port Talbot to coincide with the publication.

On the morning of Saturday 30th July, there will be a Q&A with author Sally Roberts Jones at Aberafan Library, followed by a book signing. There will be also a short presentation by Angela Vaughan John on Llafur, the Welsh People’s History Society, of which she is President. Then in the evening, a free concert has been organised at the Grand Hotel, Port Talbot with excerpts from the powerful new play about Dic Penderyn Iniquity / Camwedd and a performance by the great Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph. Full details of both events below.

Eirwen Hopkins, organiser and member of Rich History, Port Talbot’s heritage group, says:

“We hope that the events will celebrate both Sally Roberts Jones’ biography of Dic Penderyn and her career and achievements.”

Author Sally Roberts Jones has spent four decades researching Dic Penderyn’s life and legacy. Born to a Welsh family in London, she is a retired librarian and the author of books and articles on local history and the literature of Wales, as well as four collections of poetry. She was the initial Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Swansea University and a founder member of the English Language Section of Yr Academi Gymreig and is Chair of the Port Talbot Historical Society.

Sally Roberts Jones says:

“This is not an account of the Merthyr Rising as such, this is an account of the life of Richard Lewis insofar as we can know it, and of the world in which he lived.

“Dic Penderyn’s story has endured for almost two centuries and is now legend. I wanted to attempt to discover at least something of what lies behind that legend and – if possible – why Richard Lewis, among all those in search of social justice who were executed, transported or imprisoned, should be so well remembered, and even honoured.”

Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr examines Richard Lewis’ life and background, as well as the causes and events of the Merthyr Rising, Dic’s trial, his long-term legacy and his role as the first martyr of the labour movement.


Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr by Sally Roberts Jones (£9.99, Y Lolfa) is available now.

Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr will be launched at 10:30am on Saturday, 30th July at Aberafan Library (1st Floor, Aberafan Shopping Centre, Port Talbot, SA13 1PB). The event is free but spaces are limited, so booking is required. Please contact the Library (01639 763490).

The free concert will be held at the Grand Hotel, Port Talbot, starting at 7pm on Saturday, 30th July. Excerpts from Iniquity / Camwedd and a performance by singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph. There will also be a book signing with Sally Roberts Jones. To ensure a seat, contact Eirwen Hopkins: [email protected] / 07873 985527.