Wales Readathon announcement

Many of you will know that I reside in Wales, and have done so for well over a dozen years — fourteen in fact. My association with this small country goes back a lot further than that, however. In fact, some more of you will know that I was involved with an archaeological excavation on a Welsh Dark Age site for nigh on three decades, from initial investigation to final report; and that I’ve been researching what is arguably Wales’ premier figure of legend, King Arthur, for more than half a century, along with some of the associated literature and folklore.

Although not born and bred Welsh, then, I feel a great affinity with this part of the world. So I was quite excited to find that fellow blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley from North Wales was planning, under the hashtag #dewithon19, a Wales Readathon for March 2019. As she explains, “The people of Wales celebrate St David’s Day annually on 1st March – the date of our patron saint’s death in 589 CE. In honour of this traditional anniversary, and also in recognition of the time of year when daffodils (the national flower of Wales) explode into bloom, we will hold the very first Dewithon – Dewi being the diminutive form of the Welsh name Dafydd (David).”

What does this Readathon involve?

Throughout March 2019 the international book blogging community will be invited to write about the literature of Wales. This will include reviews and articles about novels, non-fiction publications, short story anthologies, biographical works (by or about Welsh writers), travelogues, volumes of poetry (or single poems), essay collections, or indeed any texts with a meaningful connection to Wales.

As you can imagine this sounded right up my street so I shall definitely be joining in. In a way I’ve already started this a year early with a review of Diana Wynne Jones’ A Sudden Wild Magic, a fantasy with plenty of Welsh and Arthurian themes, by an author with Welsh ancestry. Since I’m a book blogger, in 2019 I’ll be focusing on reviews, features or essays about Welsh texts, but those with wider interests could go for “anything else with a connection to the literature of Wales” such as interviews, plays, films, radio programmes or literary events, for example.

Paula’s link page — the Dewithon HQ at https://bookjotter.com/2018/03/26/dhq-dewithon19/ — provides dos and don’ts and further suggestions and links. (And, by the way, https://BookJotter.com is a blog I can heartily recommend: the name says it all, doesn’t it?) I’m already planning what I might include, and as her suggestions cast the net very widely potential participants are in fact really spoilt for choice.


Incidentally, Wales is well catered for where literary festivals are concerned.
Here are three, for starters:

1. Hay Festival is in the top rank of international literature festivals, set in Hay-on-Wye (“the Town of Books”) on the Welsh side of the border with England: 24th May to 3rd June 2018. https://www.hayfestival.com/
2. Llandeilo Litfest is a more low-key affair in Carmarthenshire, a four day programme of literary events running from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th April, decidedly bilingual and with a focus on Welsh authors. https://llandeilolitfest.org/
3. Crickhowell Literary Festival‘s 2018 programme is not yet finalised, but it takes place in the first week of October each year. Though many Welsh authors are featured the range of speakers and events offered is never parochial. http://cricklitfest.co.uk/about/

39 thoughts on “Wales Readathon announcement

    1. Of course! And, as you know your Shakespeare so well, you’ll doubtless have all the Welsh references (to leeks etc) in the history plays from memory! 😁

  1. Well, this gives us plenty of time to prepare — and I would love to join in! I’ve always been attracted to fantasy books with Welsh settings or connections, from the Prydain chronicles to Diana Wynne Jones. I’d love to branch out and read some other kinds of literature. I’ve lately become interested in learning more about the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas for example. And if only I could attend one of those festivals…well, I can dream.

    Thanks for alerting us to this event!

    1. Thank goodness literary festivals are proving popular and seem to be appearing all over the place! So lucky I’ve landed up in a place where a thriving bookshop hosts one and has local sponsors willing to support it.

      Paula points to lots of possibilities in her post, and the range and reach of Welsh influence is surprising. And of course a certain Nobel prize winner was enamoured enough of a Welsh poet to change his surname in homage to him!

  2. Pingback: DHQ: Dewithon19 – Book Jotter

  3. I find events like this so rewarding by introducing me not only to the book I choose, but to read the posts of everyone else and learn more.

    Once I have a general idea of the kind of book(s) I am looking for, I may ask for some input, Chris 🙂

  4. I’m definitely interested in joining in with this. I’m not sure which Welsh authors I would like to read for the event, but at least I have plenty of time to think about it!

    1. March 2019 could be a very busy month: as well as Dewithon there’s the annual Reading Ireland Month (we hardly need reminding that March also features St Patrick’s Day!) and March Magics celebrating Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Wynne Jones, who both died during this month. Hmm, how to combine all three… 😁

  5. This sounds like a great event! I enjoy these kinds of events because they are wonderful opportunities to broaden my reading horizons. I would love to participate– and I’m thankful for the advanced notice because now I have time to think about what I want to read/learn about. 🙂

    1. That’s exactly why I consider participating in these events, BJ! And eleven months is plenty of time to consider choices, even if we’re somehow tempted to read a few in advance. As I may be…

  6. Ooo, lovely! Like Lory, I’ve always read a lot of Welsh-focused fantasy, and would be more than happy to spread out a bit. I hope to see lots of recommendations in the near future!

    What I’d really like to do, more than a festival, is a walking tour or somesuch. I would just love to visit Wales. Maybe someday!

    1. Maybe such an event might demonstrate the reach of Welsh literature and perhaps its disproportionate effect on global culture, who knows?

      I’m sure there are plenty of companies which specialise in walking tours in Wales, depending on your preferences for history, culture, nature or whatever. Incidentally Wales was the first country to instigate a coastal path along its entire coast by joining up previously existing routes (and there’s an Offa’s Dyke path too largely following the historic border with England). For a small country with only 3 million inhabitants — many of those concentrated in the southern valleys and in a couple of major conurbations — there’s plenty of wild Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 to explore! 🙂

      1. Am I right in thinking, Laurie and Jean (and anyone else following this conversation) that you could do with a virtual literary tour round Wales? If so, I (and, please, anyone else who wants to stick their oar in) could, say, draw up a shortlist or two of books centred perhaps in the four corners of Wales. This could be a few months in the planning but options could be drawn up well before the end of this year so that readers could consider and then acquire the books that took their fancy, ready to start when March arrives.

        Does this sound desirable or even feasible?

        1. Goodness yes, that sounds great! Please do it, I know I’m not the only one who would appreciate it.

          Laurie, let’s. I got a surprise trip to the UK 18 months ago, who knows when it could happen again?

          1. Years ago my parents did this. They walked each day with a guide from town to town, stopping at a historical place to take a tour, then maybe a lecture in the evening on Welsh history, literature and the arts. It sounded wonderful!

        2. This would be very kind and instructive, Chris. I was thinking I’d like to read 19th century writers, either their fiction or autobiography (hey, I am just putting in my order!), but I am sure anything you share would give me a place to start. To be honest, I have not looked at Paula’s links, yet, and I am sure those will be helpful.

          1. I’d be thinking to suggest titles in different genres and, yes, 19th-century literature would come into it, I’m sure. And Paula’s links are extremely wide-ranging, though of course it would be impossible to be comprehensive — I’m anticipating suggesting titles she might not consider. Watch this space! 🙂

            1. From your question about my parent’s walking tour: it would have been in the 90s. It was a small company that they used for a similar tour in England that wanted to branch out to Wales, so they were the guinea pigs of the first Welsh group. Lucky ducks 🙂

  7. Pingback: Winding Up the Week #12 – Book Jotter

  8. Chris, your literary tour sounds fantastic! I agree with Jean, please do it. I am certain that I will jot down some titles from your list for the March Readathon. 🙂

  9. Please only work on this list if it would be a project you would enjoy – you’re under no obligation. Really, it would be enough if you called out any Welsh writers or settings during the course of the year that you happen to read. It would be helpful to those of us who would like a few ideas and would allow you to read ahead.
    If it becomes too much like work then step away. 🙂

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