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Classic collection of Welsh folk tales republished alongside poster by artist Margaret D. Jones and author, Robin Gwyndaf's work

This week sees an updated 5th edition of a collection of Welsh folk stories republished. Welsh Folk Tales by Robin Gwyndaf was originally published by the National Museum of Wales in 1989 and is an important record of the folk narrative tradition in Wales.

The 2024 edition has been dedicated to the author’s late wife, Eleri Gwyndaf, who sadly died in 2023.

For a period of over twenty years, Robin Gwyndaf interviewed over 2,500 informants, around 400 of them on tape. This material, both written – in books and journals – and oral testimony of around 600 hours of recordings, “gives the reader a vivid glimpse of that long and creative tradition,” as Colin Ford, Director of the National Museum of Wales, says in his foreword to the third edition in 1995.

Welsh Folk Tales records 63 stories from all over Wales, including ‘The islands of saints’ from Ynys Enlli, ‘The eagles of Snowdon’ from Caernarfonshire, ‘Owain Glyndŵr and the Abbot of Valle Crucis’ from Denbighshire and ‘The death of “Llywelyn our Last Prince”’ from Brecknockshire. It describes the legends and traditions and places them in their historical and social context. It also refers to the types and classification, the themes, function and meaning, as well as the value of the tales themselves. Pronunciation of Welsh words and placenames also features.

Dr Robin Gwyndaf says:

“The need to present the history of Wales in an interesting and meaningful manner to all the inhabitants of the country and beyond, whatever their age or language, has never been more crucial. My hope is that this volume, in Welsh and English, will be a small contribution towards fulfilling a dream. It is my dream that all the people of Wales, and Welsh people living abroad – and, yes, the inhabitants of Britain also – come to appreciate the wealth of our inheritance as a nation – our native language, our literature and our culture. An intrinsic part of that vibrant, wide-ranging culture is our folk tales and folk traditions.”

Only necessary changes have been made to the text, and the wonderful illustrations, now in colour, by artist Margaret D. Jones, who is now 105 years old, still shine in the volume. Margaret Jones was commissioned by the National Museum of Wales in 1988 to illustrate a map featuring the folk tales and traditions of Wales, to be published at the same time as the first edition of the book. Both the book and the A2 poster has been out of print for around 10 years, but will be available again this May for £9.99 each.