Gwyn Thomas
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Gwyn Thomas (1913-1981) novelist, playwright and broadcaster born in Cymmer in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales. His father was an out of work miner, and had very little money to live on. Thomas was the youngest in a family of twelve children who were all welsh speaking, and was raised by his sister, his mother having died when he was just a little boy of six. Young Gwyn attended Porth County School and was quite the scholar, which gained him a scholarship to study languages at St Edmund Hall University in Oxford, he hated every moment spent there, not fitting in well with the wealthy English students. After graduating he spent a year studying Spanish at the University of Madrid, unemployed he returned home to the Rhondda. During this time he took part in a march from Rhondda with thousands of men and women protesting against the 1934/1935 Unemployment Assistance Board Act, organised by the communist County Councillor of Glamorgan, Lewis Jones. The welsh valleys came alive with thousands of people taking to the streets for the protest and he wrote:

The worlds brow was hot and we were out to fan it with banners. We suggested a possible definition of Wales as a non stop protest with mutating consonants. Navels distended by resting banner-poles became one of the regions major stigmata

P262 Gwyn A Williams (1985) When was Wales
Lewis Jones wrote a novel soon after the protest marches, depicting the plight and suffering of the people of the valleys, which greatly influenced Thomas prompting him to write his novel Sorrow For Thy Sons (1937) the plot is based on three brothers, Alf an unemployed miner, Huw a student and Herbert a grocer and their worry about the industrial decline of the Welsh valleys and their political convictions.

The three brothers land up taking part in the demonstrations of the Unemployment Assistance Board Act of 1935. This novel however was turned down by the publishers.

This rejection prompted Thomas to change his style of writing, and his second novel
The Alone in The Alone was written in a strange but humorous way, this theme was continued in the next novel All Things Betray Thee (1949) which was about the Great Merthyr Rising of 1831.

In 1938 Thomas married and began teaching at a school in Cardigan and in 1940 transferred to the Barry Boys school teaching modern languages, where he spent all his teaching career, the pupils of the school nicknamed him “killer Thomas” He wrote many of his works during lessons and when the students got a bit noisy he would shout and scream at them and when sufficiently terrified would burst out laughing. Whilst at the school he was introduced to a BBC drama producer Elwyn Evans who persuaded him to write a play for radio. GAZOOKA (1952) was at initially written for the COAL magazine, the play was a short autobiographical story about the 1926 miners strike. It proved to be a huge success with the listeners bringing Thomas much acclaim. In 1956 with the opening of the English Stage Company based at the Royal Court Theatre, the artistic director George Devine approached Thomas and asked him to write a play for theatre, which he did, The Keep, after many changes to the script the play was ready to be performed. Although Thomas was a Welsh speaker he didnt use any Welsh language for this play, but the Keep creates an impact in any language, as it deals with families and their relationships with each other.

The Keep is set in the parlour of the Morton family, on the wall hangs a picture of a a woman in her early thirties, a picture of Mam, at the onset of the play Mam is dead, the play is all about the family the widowed father five brothers and a sister, all yet unmarried and still living at home, Miriam the sister looks after them and the house, taking the place of Mam. The similarities between the Mortons and Thomass early life is quite apparent, he had lost his mother at an early age, his father unemployed the family being looked after by his sister Nan taking the role of Mam.

brothers. This very much similar to what Thomass life had been, he had lived at home with his brothers and sisters after his parents died, his oldest sister Nan looking after the family.

One of main themes of the play is how a family can imprison each other with their own inward-looking prejudices. The Morton father is a weak and venerable character symbolic of the working classes, with the exception of Con his talented sons are held back by the memory of Mam scared to find out what was going on the world outside,

Thomas looked at the way families became dysfunctional. In the introduction of the Keep he writes about families who burst apart like bombs and never again achieve unity, whilst others, grow circular, deep like old ponds. unified

Thomass works were written on severe matters and was marked with enthusiasm much hilarity and empathy. Although brought up in a Welsh speaking family he did not speak Welsh and was contemptuous of its followers. With his contempt of the welsh language and for those who wrote it, Thomas was often seen as yet another writer who symbolized the contempt felt by Anglo Welsh writers towards what they thought to be narrow mindedness and two-facedness of the non conformist customs of rural Wales.

He captured the spirit of life in the South Wales valleys in his own inimitable way. He wrote clearly and truthfully about a area changing in a big way, coming to terms with modernity whilst suffering the great depression.

He would write some of his stories during the lessons, and look out if the class got a bit out of hand, he would shout and scream at the children, and when sufficiently terrified would simply burst out laughing. He stayed in adult education for forty years, during his time as a teacher his writing career took off, and all in all wrote over a dozen novels. His first novel to be published was Sorrow For Thy Sons (1946) which he had written some years before. By now Thomas was quite a star working on radio television and working on the magazine Punch. He retired from teaching to concentrate fully on writing his plays and works for television such as The Ship and

The Dig.
Many people thought that his works did not receive the praise they warranted.
writing which we now call Anglo Welsh was created and a extraordinary kind of person materialized in these writings. The severe conditions of the industrialised areas particularly those in the mining valleys portraying the torment and lack of social equality but perhaps

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