Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Welsh language campaigner Hywel Teifi Edwards dies


A look back at the life and career of Hywel Teifi Edwards

The historian and author Hywel Teifi Edwards, father of the journalist Huw Edwards, has died aged 75.

During his lifetime, Professor Edwards had been at the forefront of a number of campaigns to safeguard the future of the Welsh language.

He died at the Ty Bryngwyn Hospice in Llanelli after a short illness.

The former Professor of Welsh at the University of Wales, Swansea, he specialised in 19th Century history and the National Eisteddfod in particular.

Born in Llanddewi Aberarth, Ceredigion, Professor Edwards stood twice as a parliamentary candidate for Plaid Cymru.

In 2005, he was a key speaker at a rally in Cardiff which demanded much stronger legislation to protect the Welsh language.

A councillor for the former county of Dyfed, he was also a prominent supporter of 'Y Byd' - a Welsh-language newspaper which had the plug pulled on it nearly two years ago.

He also wrote several books on Wales in the Victorian age.

He edited 10 volumes of a series about the valleys of Wales, Cyfres y Cymoedd, with the latest volume, The National Pageant of Wales.

Speaking about the death of Professor Edwards on Monday, Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said Wales was "much the poorer" with his loss.

'Literary treasures'

He said: "Few people have achieved what this great academic did - which was to analyse the history, culture and literature of Wales in such an interesting and amusing way and to make it relevant to contemporary Wales.

"He also succeeded in boosting our sense of national identity through his work.

"As a friend and colleague on the S4C documentary programme, Almanac, in the 1980s, Hywel was always good company and an inspirational performer.

"And as an author, he will be remembered through his literary treasures, which will be appreciated by generations to come.

"The greatest loss will be to his family and we all sympathise with them today."

Plaid Cymru's leader and president also paid tribute to Professor Edwards.

Ieuan Wyn Jones, the leader of the party said: "He was not only a world-class historian and academic, a prolific author and commentator, but also an extremely proud Welshman, a man who has inspired so many others to campaign for what they believe in."

The party's President Dafydd Iwan added: "Our nation is poorer today for the loss of this great person."

Menna Machreth Jones, Chair of the Welsh Language Society added: "Everyone who shares the vision and values of Hywel Teifi will be greatly saddened by his passing, but at the same time we will remember and give thanks for his immense contribution to the life of the nation."

Professor Edwards is survived by his wife, Aerona and his two children.

These are some of your tributes to Professor Edwards

A truly great welshman who's words and thoughts will stay with us for a long time to come. Also a gentleman who has made a great effort to inspire the next generation. Will be sadly missed.
Paul Mizen, Cardiff

Very sad news about the loss of Hywel Teifi Edwards. Heard him speak once and he held the attention of everyone in the room for about 2 hours. His tales of growing up at Aberarth were so entertaining, especially swimming and fighting crocodiles in local river after seeing Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan at Aberaeron! We will miss his sterling TV Work on the history of our Welsh nation.
Bernice , Swansea

Hywel was an inspiration for all who held Wales dear to their hearts. A sad loss but his voice will live on.
Alan Ferry, Glasgow

I remember Professor Edwards coming to Newport to talk about the Chartists - in an inspirational lecture that made us realise the Newport was pivotal in helping Wales to obtain justice - cyfiawnder - for the Welsh working class. Many people decided there and then to learn Welsh and learn more about Welsh history. Thank you - Diolch yn fawr iawn Proff.
Ann Thomas, Newport, Gwent

Wales can ill afford the loss of this great Welshman. Hywel Teify had clear cut views of the needs of Wales, culturally, economically and politically.

What really stood out was that he yielded to no person in his articulate arguements and the defence of his country, a true Owain Glyndwr of his time.
Myrddin John, Rhydaman Cymru

This guy was awesome.
Mike, Port Talbot, Wales.

There are very few people in the public eye who inspire by sheer force of their essence, but Hywel Teifi Edwards was one. Like his fellow Roman-Candle-of-a-Welshman, Ray Gravel, Prof. Edwards was a joy to listen to, and to be massively reminded how lucky we are to be Welsh.
Michael Elfed Williams, Batcombe, Dorset

A gentleman and a great Welshman
Bleddyn Davies, Cydweli

I only heard him speak once but he was gripping. A sad loss.
Dot Griew,

A loss to the Welsh language.
Sally Ann Nicholls, Llantrisant


A huge loss to Welsh culture and identity. Saw him before Christmas in Llanelli Library where Huw was launching a book on Welsh Chapels.I didn't realise he was so seriously ill.
tj, Llanelli

I remember with great fondness and pride Hywel Teifi's address from the steps of the National Museum to those gathered for the 2006 National St David's Day Parade. He had everyone there hanging on his every word as he spoke (without notes) with such stirring eloquence, erudition, and passion, about Wales' past, present and future. I want to say, as secretary of the National St David's Day Parade and on behalf of its organising committee, how grateful to him we all are for the unstinting support he gave to the Parade and how sorry we are for his passing. We extend our deepest commiserations to his family.
Gareth Westacott,

As a professorial colleague of Hywel at Swansea I remember him most of all for his wicked sense of humour and his eloquence in debunking false arguments. No matter what your politics, he was a great supporter if he believed you had Wales at heart.
Bryn Gravenor, Swansea

He was one of the most inspirational figures in modern Wales and there was never a murmour when Hywel Teifi spoke in public - every word was a gem.

His passing is a huge loss, but our nation has gained so much from him. What an outstanding Welshman.
Ian, Caerdydd

Everyone in, of or for Wales, including immigrants like me, is the richer for the life of this truly great and humane man and is the poorer for his passing.

We shall not see his likes again any time soon...
Barry Tobin, Cardiff, Wales

Special man. Great welshman.
Roy J Thomas, Caerdydd

Remember borrowing his election materials while doing a mock school election, as i had the same surname and initials.

This is a huge loss to Wales

Condolences to the family
Hywel, llundain

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific