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Academic Meic Stephens
"He laid the foundations for the Arts Council's work in Wales"
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Friday, 10 December, 1999, 19:17 GMT
Professor leaves literary legacy

Professor Gwyn Jones Professor Gwyn Jones had a distinguished literary career

The distinguished Welsh writer and scholar Professor Gwyn Jones CBE has died, aged 92.

Born the son of a miner in Blackwood in 1907, he made his name as a literary historian and writer, producing several highly respected books.

He founded The Welsh Review in 1939 and later clashed with Saunders Lewis on the question of a National Theatre for Wales.

In 1948, he worked with Professor of Welsh Thomas Jones on the translation of the Mabinogion into English and it remains the standard text in English to this day.

For the first time, I realised what had been achieved by the people I thought of as my own.
Professor Dai Smith

He taught in the English department at Aberystwyth University from the late 1940s to 1964.

During the 1960s, he was chairman of the Welsh Committee of the Arts Council.

Awarded CBE

In 1963, he was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Order of the Falcon, by the President of Iceland before receiving his CBE two years later.

Prof Jones's acclaimed book A History of the Vikings was published in 1968 and sold all over the world.

His love of the Vikings was revisited in the acclaimed Kings, Beasts and Heroes (1972), which captured his fascination for Icelandic sagas and the Welsh tale of Cullhwch and Olwen.

In 1977 he received an honorary DLitt from the University of Wales - the same year as the publication of his book The Oxford Book of Welsh Verse in English.

Defining speech

A further honour followed in 1991 when he received the Medal of the Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion.

A defining speech was made by Prof Jones in 1957 in Swansea about the state of Anglo-Welsh literature, which stayed with another influential Welsh academic, Prof Dai Smith.

"For the first time, I realised what had been achieved by the people I thought of as my own," he said.

Prof Smith launched the annual Gwyn Jones Lecture at Cardiff University, where Prof Jones held the Chair of English from 1964 until his retirement in 1975.

Academic Meic Stephens paid tribute to Prof Jones.

"He turned out all his books in addition to his work as an academic," he said.

"As a story writer he is in the first league."

His valuable collection of books was presented to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth in 1987.

Prof Jones's first wife Alice died 20 years ago. He married his second wife Mair and moved to Aberystwyth.
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