We ‘must use Welsh history as a means of giving the Welsh more confidence in the world today’ – this is the message that is emphasised in a new book published this week by Y Lolfa publishers.
Highlights from Welsh History by Emrys Roberts is a brand new history book that shines new light on Wales. It gives a concise yet comprehensive overview of Welsh history from the Brythonic period to the present day, whilst presenting a new and alternative portrayal of Welsh history – with the emphasis being on the nation’s successes and strengths.
The book contains many revelatory facts about Wales including that she produced a man ‘probably more responsible than Charles Darwin for developing the theory of evolution’ and a woman who was ‘at least as responsible as Florence Nightingale for developing the nursing profession’. Also reveleaed is the way that Wales was the world leader during the early Industrial Revolution; contained the world’s first industrial town; and was home to the world’s first steam train.
‘Our small nation of some three million people have a past of which we can be immensely proud’ said the author, Emrys Roberts, ‘It pays sometimes to look in the rear-view mirror and I believe that if only the people of Wales were more fully aware of our past – our history, our story – it would give us much greater confidence in facing – and building – our future’.
He was inspired to write the book – in both English and Welsh, after a friend of his confessed that during the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 that he ‘did not feel very Welsh’ and that he ‘did not know much about Wales’ either.
‘Wales has made a huge contribution to the world but very few people are aware of it – even people in Wales itself’ added Emrys, ‘And that’s why I wrote this book. To give us confidence as a nation’.
Emrys Roberts was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, in 1931. He began to learn Welsh when his family moved to Cardiff during the Second World War. He secured an honours degree in History in the same year as he was President of the Students’ Union at University College, Cardiff, and has lectured in American and Welsh History at the college’s Extra-Mural Department.
He was Deputy President of Plaid Cymru in the late 70s. He was sent to Cardiff prison in 1952 for refusing to join the British armed forces after MPs in Wales voted against conscription during a time of peace. He was placed in the cells under Westminster after intervening and disrupting a debate from the public gallery.
Highlights from Welsh History by Emrys Roberts (£3.99, Y Lolfa) is available now. A Welsh version has also been published, titled Ein Stori Ni – Golwg Newydd ar Hanes y Cymry.