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Women in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography

National biographies are a way of making a nation by creating its memory and recording the lives of those people who have shaped it. Therefore, who is included in this repository and resource is very important. Women are still under-represented in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, which was launched in 1937 and for which the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies and the National Library of Wales have been responsible since January 2014. Although the DWB’s statistics look no worse than those of most other national biographies, we have to concede that even in 2016, only about 10% of authors contributing entries to the DWB were women. Entries on women constituted less than 5% of the content published between 1937 and 1971, and still come to less than 10%. It is not only the statistics that need revising. Some entries written early on, like that on Betsi Cadwaladr, are very much of their time and urgently need thorough revision. Other women like the pioneering industrialist and feminist novelist Amy Dillwyn, are not there at all. Some, like the influential cultural patron Lady Augusta Hall (Lady Llanover) are hidden away in their husbands’ or fathers’ entries.

As Assistant Editor of the DWB, I want to ensure a fairer representation of women in our national biography, and we are making progress. Since 2014, we have added 25 women to the DWB page at the National Library of Wales website, among them the Egyptologist Kate Bosse-Griffiths, the politician Val Feld, and one of our best-known authors, Kate Roberts. Hers is one of the first entries in the DWB to be equipped with images, thanks to our Digital Editor Morfudd Nia Jones and the advances of technology. We have commissioned entries on a further 15 of the women on the 1971–2013 list, among them Laura Ashley, the artist Brenda Chamberlain, the novelist Menna Gallie, the environmentalist Cecily Williams-Ellis and the mathematician Mary Warner. With a view to revising older content, I am glad to report that Amy Dillwyn will soon claim her place, and who better to contribute her entry than Kirsti Bohata. Lady Charlotte Guest’s entry was recently brought into the twenty-first century by Angela John, and Lady Llanover has now left her husband Benjamin’s entry with her own, thoroughly updated article. The women of Wales are moving out of the shadows!

However, in the light of the fact that we are attempting to revise all that has been written since 1937 and to commission, edit and make available new entries, ours remains a formidable task, for which I would ask for your help. Very aware of the gaps in our knowledge, we need contributors to write entries on women 1971–2013 who deserve a place in our DWB. We also need authors willing to revise entries that reflect attitudes which are long out of date and at times offensive. Last, but not least, in order to raise the percentage of female contributors to our nation’s biography, we need women to write entries, on the women and on the men who shaped our national history.

I would ask you, therefore, to take a minute to look through the DWB page on the National Library of Wales website and see if you find the women who interest you, and whether you like what you are reading about them. If not, why not offer to write or revise an entry? Below is the most up-to-date list of women on which we urgently need articles. The full list of recently commissioned and included entries will be available on the Women’s Archive of Wales website soon. Have a look and send me an email:

Marion Löffler         Aberystwyth      @WelshBiography

Gaps in the DWB / Women 1971–2013.

 Huldah Bassett (1901-1982, teacher and language campaigner)

Eileen Beasley (2012, Welsh language campaigner)

Dilys Cadwaladr (1979, poet)

Olwen Carey-Evans (1990)

Irma Chilton (1930-90, author)

Ethel Eva Crane (1912-2007, leading apiculturist)

Margaret Beatrice Davies, MBE (2006, secretary to the librarian of the NLW)

Irene Myrddin Davies (1982, author and translator)

Rhiannon Mansel Davies (1988, translator)

Elizabeth Jane Davies-Rees, ‘Awen Mona’ (author)

Anna Percy Davis (1886-1981 playwright)

Eirys Mary Edwards, Lady (1981, wife of Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards)

Elizabeth Maud (Maudie) Edwards (1991, actress)

Shân Emlyn (1997, singer)

Ennis Evans (1953-1982, author)

Olwen Caradoc Evans (1918-1998, map collector and seller)

Gwyneth Francis-Jones (1991, author)

Rosalie Kingsmill Fry (1911-1994? children’s books author)

Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies (1891-1992, actress)

Iris Gower (Richardson) (1935-2010, novelist)

June Gruffydd (1929-1989, Secretary of the Cymmrodorion)

Lowri Gwilym (1954-2010, television producer and poet)

Menna Gwyn (2006, television presenter and actress)

Ella Gwendolyn Rhys Williams ‘Jean Rhys’ (1890-1979, novelist, father William Rees Williams was Welsh)

Ray (Rosemary) Howard-Jones (1903-1996, painter)

Myfanwy Howell (1988, television presenter)

Beti Hughes (1926-1981, novelist)

Gwenno Hywyn (1949-1991, author of children’s books)

Eldra Jarman (1917-2000, harpist and author)

Margaret John (1926-2011, actress)

Kitty Idwal Jones (1898-1984, folksong collector and organiser of eisteddfodau; Cymdeithas Alawon Gwerin etc)

M. Angharad Jones (2010, author)

Marged Lloyd Jones (2009, novelist and president of Merched y Wawr)

Mary Vaughan Jones (1918-83, author)

June Knox-Mawer (1930-2006, author and television presenter)

Maria Sax Ledger (1916-2006, artist)

Eiluned Lewis (1900-79, novelist)

Enid Lewis (1894-1980, musician)

Gweneth Lilly (1920-2004, author)

Frances Lloyd George (1888-1972, secretary and wife of DLlG)

Cecily Mackworth (1911-2006, author)

Elena Puw Morgan (1900-73, novelist)

Elaine Morgan (1920-2013, author)

Esther Mary Morgan, ‘Mair Elli’ (1971, harpist and poet)

Lily Newton (1893-1981, botanist)

Teresa Mary ‘Tessie’ O’Shea (1913-95, entertainer)

Annie Owen (1897-1993, educator)

Dyddgu Owen (1906-92, author)

Mary C. Owen (1983, YWCA)

Nêst Ogwena Pierry (2009, Paris Welsh Society)

Annie Powell (1986, Communist Mayor of Rhondda)

Margaret Berenice Price (1941-2011, opera singer)

Olwen Price (1903-99, opera singer)

Helen Ramage (1992, historian)

Eileen Mary Rees (1912-2008, nursing educationist)

Mati Rees (1902-89, educator)

Lily (Lili) Richards (1998, music teacher)

Dame Mildred Riddelsdell (1913-2006, civil servant)

Alwena Roberts (1981, harpist)

Eirlys Rhiwen Cadwaladr Roberts (1911-2008, journalist, editor of Which?)

Enid Pierce Roberts (1917-2010, scholar)

Gwyneth Parul Roberts (1911-2007, missionary and doctor)

Lynette Roberts (1909-95, poet)

Mary Silyn Roberts (1877-1972, educator)

Nesta Mary Roberts (1913-2009, broadcaster)

Rachel Roberts (1927-80, actress)

Dame Shelagh Roberts (1924-92, MEP)

Bernice Rubens (1928-2004, novelist)

Rosalind Rusbridge (1915-2004, teacher, author and pacifist)

Julia Styles (1950-2011, nursing educationist)

Myfanwy Talog (1945-95, actress)

Aeronwy Thomas (1936-2009, poet and author)

Jennie Thomas (1898-1979, author of children’s books)

Mair Elvet Thomas (1915-98, historian and author)

Megan Thomas (1921-86, soprano)

Sarah Minwel Tibbott (1998, author and curator at Sain Ffagan)

Lady Rowena Traherne (1986, public service)

Gladys Vasey (1889-1981, artist)

Hilda Vaughan (1892-1985, novelist)

Helen Watts (1927-2009, singer)

Dilys Wynne Williams (1971, musician)

Dinah Williams (1911-2009, pioneer of organic farming)

Eirlys Williams (Eirlys Trefor, 1919-94, novelist)

Elisabeth Elin Williams (1979, educator and public campaigner)

Mary Williams (1882-1977, scholar of French)

Amabel Williams-Ellis (1894-1984, author)

Susan Williams-Ellis (1918-2007, pottery designer)

Nancy Wynne-Jones (1922-2006, ar

Dictionary of Welsh Biography:Guidelines for contributors