Masterful Novels

Rhys Lewis by Daniel Owen

James Harries’s 1888 translation of the Welsh-language novel by Daniel Owen, with an afterword by Rob Mimpriss.

Three young men of similar parentage choose contrasting paths through life. Will Bryan, mischievous and charming, sets his sight on success in business, while Robert Lewis the mineworker, unjustly excluded from the Methodist chapel, begins a political crusade against injustice. Meanwhile, Robert’s younger brother, Rhys, has set his heart on becoming a preacher. This classic novel, teeming with strikers, shopkeepers, peasants and thieves, provides a vivid cross-section of Wales at a turning point in its history, and a profound meditation on the conflict between the strictures of religious morality and the natural goodness of the human heart.

Enoc Huws by Daniel Owen

Claud Vivian’s 1896 translation of the Welsh-language novel by Daniel Owen, with an afterword by Rob Mimpriss.

Captain Richard Trevor is manager of the Pwllygwynt lead mine, and one of the largest employers in his community. But the lead mine has failed to produce any lead, and as his investors begin to move away, Captain Trevor knows that the only way to keep his pious yet dishonest wife and his clever yet frivolous daughter in comfort is to open a new lead mine, as devoid of prospects as the last. Unable to raise the capital he needs, he turns to Enoc Huws, the timid, otherworldly owner of the local grocer’s shop, who lives in fear of his gold-digging housekeeper and is already hopelessly in love with the Captain’s daughter.

With its charming rogues, its comic antiheroes, and its rich cast of female characters, Enoc Huws is both a page-turner in its own right, and Daniel Owen’s lighter sequel to his masterpiece, Rhys Lewis. Twice adapted for television, and perennially popular in Welsh, this novel was translated in 1896 by Claud Vivian, and now follows Rhys Lewis into republication by Cockatrice Books.

Father and Son by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature

Arne Kampen, restless and sullen, has reached manhood as though under a curse. His mother, possessive and pious, has made him promise never to leave the farm, and his father is a drunkard, brawler, cripple and lover, despised and feared throughout the valley, who has brutalised them both. On a nearby farm lives Eli Böen, as joyful and elusive as the Faye, the daughter of the woman his father loved and of the rival whose blow left him lame. Written with the unerring clarity of a Scandinavian saga and the kindly wisdom of a folk tale, this novel explores the struggle between fate and redemption, the longing for freedom and the need for bonds.

Published as part of the Global Wales series: celebrating the literature of Wales and the world.

Twm Shôn Catti by T. J. Llewelyn Prichard

Twm Shôn Catti, gentleman of Tregaron. Poet, prankster, lover — and thief.

Drawn from legends of banditry and resistance in Wales and more recent English literary influences, this pioneering Welsh novel in English from 1828 combines humour and adventure with a deep knowledge of Welsh customs during Wales’s first timid steps towards national reawakening.

Published as part of the Welsh Folklore series: fiction, translation and scholarship inspired by the rich folk heritage of Wales.