Literature Wales: A History

Lit Wales

Formerly the Academi, Literature Wales is a powerhouse of Welsh literary scene.

Its manifestations are manifold. National literature agency. Society of writers. Publisher of two magazines (literary magazine Taliesin and listings magazine A470.)

But whatever aspect is concentrated upon, Literature Wales always has the same goal in mind: the promotion of Welsh literature, in both English and Welsh, throughout Wales and beyond its borders.

Literature Wales was formed out of The Welsh Academy – or the Academi – which started life as a Welsh language society, formed in 1959, following a public discussion between Robert Maynard Jones and Waldo Williams. An English language section was added in 1968 by Meic Stephens, the editor who was the then-director of the Welsh Arts Council and whom began the periodical Poetry Wales, which lives on till this day.

However, it was not until 1998 that the Academi was reformed into a single organisation, utilising both languages, and gained the support of the Arts Council of Wales in becoming the national literature service.

The current incarnation of Literature Wales was officially formed in 2011, through the merging of the Welsh Academy – the official national Society of Writers in Wales – and the Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre; a beautiful country house based in North West Wales, on the Llŷn Peninsula, from which Literature Wales offers a whole host of residential creative writing courses.

Literature Wales now operates out of Cardiff with the support of the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government, and is one of the resident organisations in the Wales Millennium Centre. Through the WMC Literature Wales runs the Glyn Jones Centre, through which it has hosted writers’ surgeries, community workshops, author events, and advice sessions to young writers.

In addition to these practices, the Literature Wales website is an essential resource for any burgeoning or contemporary writer in Wales (and can be accessed in Welsh, as well as English). It lists various ongoing competitions, events, and projects in addition to – throughout this year at least – its various projects for the year-long Dylan Thomas 100 Festival. There is an archive of lectures from classic Welsh figures. And writers just starting out also have access to a detailed guide to the ‘industry’, which covers topics from ‘Ways to get started’ to ‘Self-promotion and networking.’

And then there is the Writers of Wales database – a listing of all the writers currently working in Wales, their publication history, and their interests. Few other literary scenes are so well documented, and made so inclusive, as Literature Wales enables the Welsh literary scene to be.
Currently Literature Wales offers writing bursaries, organises a roster of literary events and lectures, and provides financial assistance to a myriad of literature based ventures. The organisation is also the controlling hand in selecting the National Poet for Wales, and of many major literary competitions in Wales, including the Wales Book of the Year, the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, and the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition.

It is self-evident the extent to which Literature Wales determines the direction and sway of the Welsh literary landscape. But the real strength of Literature Wales is its determination in helping new writers break into the scene; whether by offering financial aid and mentoring services, or simply pointing writers in the right direction.

The closing date for applications for Literature Wales Writers’ Bursaries 2015 is fast approaching: Friday 24th October. All those interested, please follow the link below for further information:


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