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First serious study of William Salesbury’s life and work to be published

The first serious study of the life and work of William Salesbury, published this week, will investigate the disparity between his very real achievements and the hostility shown to him by twentieth century academics.

The Life and Work of William Salesbury by James Pierce is the long awaited biography of William Salesbury, a gifted linguist, scholar and lawyer who dedicated and risked his life to bring to his people the learning and benefits of the Humanist revolution.

He was the principal translator of the 1567 Welsh New Testament and is considered one of the most significant figures in the history of the Welsh language.

William Salesbury was the Deputy Attorney General for Wales from 1532. His abiding passion was language and he succeeded in steering the first Welsh dictionary and the first translation of the New Testament into Welsh through the political perils of the reigns of four Tudor monarchs.

He introduced his country to the printed word, to Renaissance and Humanist learning, and his lifetime's work was arguably responsible for saving the Welsh language from extinction.

Salesbury was a determined and politically astute man, yet his posthumous reputation has been blighted by academic controversy.

The Life and Work of William Salesbury will illustrate his major contribution to language and linguistics and should re-instate him as one of Wales' most influential scholars.

'A colleague of Ridley, Cecil, William Herbert and John Dee and employed by the notorious Richard Rich, his private life was dogged by marital strife, internal exile, a disputed will, physical assault and the seizure of his property,' said the author, James Pierce.

'Yet he pioneered Welsh printing, wrote propaganda for Ridley, compiled a dictionary, produced the first extensive translations of the scriptures into Welsh and the first science book in English and oversaw the passage of key legislation through Parliament.' he added.

'His contribution to the culture and history of both England and Wales is substantial,' said James.

'This is a well written, coherent argument that makes an original contribution to scholarship,' said Dr Adrian Morgan, 'It is a much needed and long awaited biography of one of the most significant figures in the history of the Welsh language.'

Born in Gwent, James Pierce studied Art before joining the teaching profession, eventually becoming an EAL specialist working with children from around the world. He learned Welsh as an adult and has had a lifelong interest in language and literature. He is married with two children and two grandsons.