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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 07:06 GMT
Book scheme lists 'forgotten' 20
The list aims to remind people of Wales' literary tradition
A list of 20 Welsh literary classics in English has been drawn up under a scheme aimed at promoting Wales' writing tradition.

The 'Library of Wales' collection aims make it easier for people to access English-language books about Wales written during the 20th Century.

The titles were selected by historian and culture writer Professor Dai Smith.

He said: "What we have here is a superb European literature that is largely unknown, even in Wales."

The list is part of a 250,000 promotion of English-language writing by the Welsh assembly.

The 20 'forgotten' Welsh classics
Border Country, Raymond Williams
Cwmardy, Lewis Jones
A Country Dance/Ray of Darkness, Margiad Evans
So Long, Hector Bebb, Ron Berry
Oscar/The Dark Philosophers, Gwyn Thomas Simeon
Sport in Literature - Edited anthology
Home to an Empty House, Alun Richards
Black Parade, Jack Jones
Stories, Dylan Thomas
A Man's Estate, Emyr Humphreys
Rhapsody, Dorothy Edwards
We Live, Lewis Jones
Black Venus, Rhys Davies
A Few Selected Exits, Gwyn Thomas
Stories, Alun Lewis
The Battle to the Weak, Hilda Vaughan
Stories, Geraint Goodwin
Poems, Huw Menai
The Voices of the Children, George Ewart Evans
The Blue Bed/Stories, Glyn Jones

The Library of Wales initiative aims to re-print books which are either out of print or difficult to obtain.

Free copies of the titles will be sent to secondary schools and libraries as a way of highlighting what Culture Minister Alan Pugh has described as the "rich quantity and quality of literature" in English from Wales.

Professor Smith, of the University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, headed a panel of five to draw up the first list of 20. A second list is expected next year.

'English-language tradition'

The former head of English-language programmes at BBC Wales said he hoped it would show that writing about Welsh life could be compared to writing in English about life in Ireland or England.

He said the project aimed to publish ten books a year which would "allow the people of Wales to have a sense of themselves".

He said: "It's about building up a sense of location, identity and memory, so there is a sense of possession about life in Wales, when Wales is changing so fast.

"The English-language writing tradition of Wales is as deep as anything in the Welsh language.

"What we have here is a superb European literature that is largely unknown, even in Wales."

He said he would rate the first book on the list, Border Country, by Raymond Williams, as one of the ten best novels in the English language.

Future titles

He added: "Because of the vagaries of the market, it's often quite difficult to sustain things in print.

"The people of Wales have a literary tradition - it's been hidden from them."

Prof Smith said the list was not definitive, as future titles in the Library of Wales collection may also include memoirs and autobiography, travel writing, essays and drama.

The titles would be published when possible, not in any particular order, he added.

The tender for the publishing contract is expected to go out in January 2005.

The assembly government announced earlier this year that it was putting money into making English-language literature from Wales more widely available, including new writing.

It is hoped the first books in the series will be published next year.

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