Modern Welsh Publications

 

Cyhoeddiadau Modern Cymreig

 

Modern Welsh Publications

This publishing company came into existence in April 1963 due to the efforts of a young Welsh Presbyterian Minister, D Ben Rees, who ministered then in Abercynon, in the Aberdare Valley. He brought together a number of well-known Welsh men of letters and leaders to support him under the chairmanship of Lord Gwilym Prys Davies, then a solicitor with Morgan Bruce and Nicholas in Pontypridd. The editorial board of Modern Welsh Publications also included the Anglo- Welsh poet, Harri Webb, the school teachers Merfyn Griffith, Cyril Hughes and W M Rogers, the academic Dr Aled Rhys Wiliam and they met regularly. From these gatherings the publishing firm decided to concentrate on four aspects. Firstly, children’s books. They became the pioneers of Welsh language coloured children’s books and D Ben Rees initiated contracts with printing and publishing houses in Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria, Hungary and the Czech Republic as well as the Netherlands and Germany. These books were brought in containers through the London Docks and carried by lorries to Teify House, South Street, Abercynon where they were kept under trampoline until they were disposed by the Secretary of the company to the Welsh book shops in Cardiff (Beti Rhys in particular), Carmarthen, Cardigan, Aberaeron, Aberystwyth. D Ben Rees would spend a number of his Saturdays to ensure the disposal of these beautifully produced children’s books that set the standard for the whole Welsh language publishing scene.
     The Welsh Joint Education Committee co-operated with Modern Welsh Publications and so did a number of authorities in Glamorganshire. For MWP usually ordered 5,000 copies of these remarkably attractive children’s books, and today these publications are collectors’ items and priceless.
    The second strand in the 1960’s and 1970’s was to do with producing a Year Book under the title Arolwg which was published for a number of years under different editors. The last issue of Arolwg appeared for 1981.
     Thirdly an effort was made to produce books which would be useful to individuals in their business and leisure activities.
    Fourthly like all Welsh publishers Modern Welsh Publications produced novels, poetry books, essays, biographies and autobiographies. In this section the publishers were instrumental in publishing books by poets such as Ben T Hopkins, L Haydn Lewis, O Trevor Roberts (Llanowain), Father John Fitzgerald (Cadwyn Cenedl), Stanley G Lewis, Jack Oliver (the barber from Lampeter) as well as novels by D Griffith Jones, T Wilson Evans.
    Over the years the publishing company has been busy, and in 1968 Revd D Ben Rees moved to Liverpool but for a number of years, the warehouse as well as the publishing office had addresses in Abercynon as well as Pontypridd. When this arrangement ceased the firm and two addresses, one in Wales at Nythfa, Llanddewi Brefi in Ceredigion and the other in Allerton, Liverpool, and their books were sold by the Welsh Book Centre in Llanbadarn near Aberystwyth in west Wales.
    In 2013 Modern Welsh Publications will celebrate fifty years as publishers. Since the 1980’s the firm has published a number of books in the English language. In April 2010 they published a biography of a well known twentieth century baric and eisteddfodic figure called Caerwyn who lived in Liverpool as well as in Anglesey. Earlier that month the published A Saga of a Revival, so in the first six months of 2010 this publishing house has published two more books, one in English and the other in Welsh. By 1978 Modern Welsh Publications was the only publishing house in the Liverpool Welsh community.

Bleddyn James

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