To celebrate International Women’s Day 2017 we take a look at some inspirational and bold Welsh women from our history.
5. KATE ROBERTS
Kate Roberts was our “Queen of Letters” and one of ‘the most important Welsh woman of the 20th century’ according to her biographer Alan Llwyd.
She was a prominent author, a prolific journalist and a major benefactor. Kate Roberts was one of the earliest members of the National Party and was the owner of Y Faner. She served Wales on various committees and in eisteddfods, and was prominent in several national and local campaigns, including the one to establish Ysgol Twm o’r Nant school in Denbigh. She lived a varied and industrious life, but also a life that was filled with tragedy and sadness.
4. MARGARET JONES
Margaret Jones (1842-1902), was a woman from Rhosllannerchrugog, north Wales, who became famous in the nineteenth century as “The Welsh Lady from Canaan”. She travelled extensively and spent time living in Paris, Jerusalem, Morocco, the United States and Australia. She published two books of her observations, “Llythyrau Cymraes o Wlad Canaan [The Letters of a Welsh Lady from Canaan] (1869) and “Morocco, a’r hyn a welais yno” [Morocco, and what I saw there] (1883).
3. ZONIA BOWEN
Zonia Bowen is an Englishwoman who embraced the Welsh language and became a key figure in the period leading up to the establishment of Merched y Wawr. She came to Wales at age 17, married a Welsh man and learnt Welsh – well before the days of Welsh lessons for adults.
2. ESME KIRBY
Esmé Kirby was the conservationist who formed the Snowdonia National Park Society. Her career began as an actress, and at 23 she married Thomas Firbank, whose bestselling book, I Bought a Mountain (1940) tells of their married life at Dyffryn, a 3,000-acre farm near Capel Curig. Their marriage ended as the Second World War began but Esmé continued to farm on her own in the rugged Snowdonia landscape and made a success of it. She remarried and became a volunteer conservationist and formed the Snowdonia National Park Society, to ensure the mountains were protected from future development. The local farming community saw her strength and determination, and helped her to succeed… She made a success of Dyffryn against all the odds, leaving a lasting legacy.
1. KATE BOSSE GRIFFITHS
Kate Bosse-Griffiths, of German-Jewish descent, succeeded in fleeing from Germany to the Britain in 1937. She fell in love, married, began writing in Wales and established Cylch Cadwgan whilst the Nazis made life in Germany and Europe hell on Earth. Her family was persecuted. A few tried to become a part of the system, others struggled in spite of the system, and some self-sacrifed in opposition of the system.
In Oxford she met fellow Classics scholar and Egyptologist J. Gwyn Griffiths and they soon settled as a married couple in Rhondda where Kate established the Cadwgan Literary Circle. She fled the brutal regime of the Nazis and became one of Wales’ leading academic and literary figures.
The story would have been lost forever if it wasn’t for the thousand and more pages that have been kept by the family; letters, diaries and documents. They give an account of the attacks during Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), life under the insane regime, details of prison camps, fleeing to Shanghai, suicide, imprisonment and killing. Hers is a story of love and hatred, protection and persecution, yearning and terror during the most destructive period in European history.
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