Ceri Shaw



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Category: New Titles


From the end of the First World War in November 1918 until the fall of the last Liberal-led government in October 1922, Margaret Lloyd George, wife of David Lloyd George, “the Man who Won the War”, pursued an unprecedented series of political campaigns between all compass points of England and Wales. It was unprecedented for a “First Lady” to campaign on the political hustings, except in their husband’s own constituency. By and large, it has never been repeated in this manner.

The Campaigns of Margaret Lloyd George ,  published on 24 th  October 2022 (almost a century to the day after Lloyd George’s departure from 10 Downing Street at the hands of a vote at the now-labelled “1922 Committee”), tells this unique story in the words of Margaret Lloyd George herself, and in the words of the press that followed her tours. Dr J. Graham Jones, Director Emeritus of the Welsh Political Archive at the National Library of Wales, writes in his Foreword, “ The authentic voice of Dame Margaret Lloyd George comes through loud and clear.”

The book draws on an unpublished treasure trove of speeches, notes and correspondence, in her hand and in the hand of her private secretary, the Rev. J. T. Rhys (grandfather of the book’s author, Richard Rhys O’Brien), and others. The political campaigning began with her whirlwind two weeks during the controversial December 1918 general election, on one Saturday travelling 95 miles across South Wales, seeing 20,000 people, addressing 10 meetings – four in the open air – speaking in English and Welsh-  in four different constituencies.

Over the next four years she campaigned in as many by-elections as was practicable. For example, in 1919 she addressed large crowds in Plymouth on the eve of the election of Nancy Astor, the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons. In February 1921 her campaigning tipped the scales in favour of Lloyd George’s Liberal candidate against the Asquithian Liberal in the Cardiganshire by-election, an election that widened the rift in the Liberal Party. In July 1922 she swept through the South West, from Bristol to Redruth, returning to Downing Street to petition her husband on behalf of the Cornish tin miners.

This was a time of seismic shifts in British politics, as the Liberals feuded and as the Labour Party edged towards their eventual first government in 1924.

The time was right for her interventions: in 1918 women for the first time had gained the vote. Furthermore, her husband, as soon as the November 1918 Armistice was signed, was plunged into negotiating the peace, culminating in the controversial Versailles Treaty in July 1919. Thereon he was focused on rebuilding the country, build “homes for heroes” and dealing with increasing industrial strife as the economy slowly recovered. His wife took his message around the country.

Alongside her political activities Mrs Lloyd George continued her humanitarian campaigns, for education, for women’s rights, for temperance, for new hospitals for the war casualties, for pensions for the soldiers and sailors, all following on from her wartime campaigns for the troops, for which she was made a Dame in 1920. Known thereon as Dame Margaret, she nonetheless generally preferred the simpler ‘Mrs Lloyd George’.

Aside from the good fortune of inheriting such a valuable archive, Richard has been inspired to write this story to restore the public reputation of Margaret Lloyd George, so strong a century ago, which has been largely forgotten, many merely remembering a little Welsh woman who preferred to be at home in Cricieth, North Wales and who, it is often erroneously stated, took little interest in national politics. Perhaps for good reason, no spouse of a Prime Minister has conducted such open political campaigning since the pioneering Mrs Lloyd George, though some have worked hard in the background. In his introduction Richard writes:  “The role of a Prime Minister’s partner is undefined, in theory allowing each holder of the office to fashion it at will - but minefields as well as opportunities abound. Mrs Lloyd George seized the opportunities and avoided the minefields with great skill, and while she only too often exhausted herself, she never over-reached.”

After the fall of Lloyd George from power a century ago Mrs Lloyd George continued her humanitarian work, as well as helping both her son Gwilym and her daughter Megan (the first Welsh woman at Westminster) to join their father on the back benches of the House of Commons. She died on 20th January 1941, at home in Cricieth, after a fall and subsequent illness.

The book closes with the generous comment made in 1922 by an otherwise opposing Asquithian Liberal:  “Dame Margaret is so obviously what we may all desire to be, a real good woman doing her utmost to tread worthily the path in which the fates have placed her.”

The Campaigns of Margaret Lloyd George  by Richard Rhys O'Brien is published by  Y Lolfa , on the 24th October, price £14.99.

From Advance reviews:

“we can now understand rather better the remarkable work and words of this indefatigable woman whose influence has previously been underplayed.”  Angela V. John,  President of Llafur, the Welsh People’s History Society

“An important contribution to Welsh History as well as to the story of party politics in general after the First World War.”  Kenneth O. Morgan , House of Lords

… a meticulous and valuable contribution to our understanding of the admirable Margaret Lloyd George.”   Ffion Hague , Biographer of Margaret Lloyd George in  The Pain and the Privilege .

“Finally, a serious study of the life and work of this remarkable woman… bringing her bright, shrewd personality to light.”  Huw Edwards , journalist and broadcaster

At 7.30 pm Thursday 27th October, Richard will address the Friends of the Lloyd George Museum, Llanystumdwy, near Cricieth, on the story of this remarkable woman.

Richard is a former international economist, scenario planner and strategist, author of  Global Financial Integration: the End of Geography , (cited as “one of two iconic books on globalisation” by Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable ), editor of more than a dozen books, former council member of Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs), and currently a member of the Advisory Board of  The Annual Register  on World Events. In addition to releasing six albums of his own songs, his online study  www.TheDinnerPuzzle.com  focuses on Lady Margaret Rhondda and the pioneering women of the 1930s.

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The Nanteos Cup

Back in 2014 many were shocked when it was reported that the priceless religious artefact known as the Nanteos Cup had been stolen from its owner’s home in Herefordshire.

The Nanteos Cup is an ancient wooden bowl which for many years was kept at the Mid Wales mansion called Nanteos, whence the vessel derived its name. It is believed to have originated from the medieval Cistercian abbey of Strata Florida.

In 2015 the Cup was recovered by police and in 2016 it was given a new home in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth where it remains on permanent display.

Many traditions and legends grew around the Cup including the belief that it had healing powers and was made from the wood of the True Cross or may even have been the Holy Grail used by Christ at the Last Supper and may have come from Glastonbury.

Now three authors have written the first dedicated, in-depth history of the Nanteos Cup, chronicling its history from medieval times to the present day. A treasure trove of previously unknown information has been uncovered which goes a long way to identifying, for the first time, the origins and history of the relic. The book examines the way in which the stories and practices around the Cup have evolved over the years and introduces the many colourful characters who have been drawn to the vessel.

The Nanteos Grail is written by John Matthews, Ian Pegler and Fred Stedman-Jones. John Matthews has been a writer for more than 40 years on myth, folklore and ancient traditions. He was awarded a BAFTA for his work as an historical advisor on the movie King Arthur (2004) and his book Pirates (Carlton/Athenaeum) was a number one New York Times bestseller for 22 weeks in 2005. Ian Pegler is a regular reader at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth and has researched Welsh history and legends for many years. Fred Stedman-Jones was chairman of the Pendragon Society and an acknowledged expert on the Nanteos Cup; he was the consultant behind the scenes for a number of documentaries on the Holy Grail which he researched for over 30 years.

The Nanteos Grail was published in March 2022 by Amberley and is widely available from online sellers.

The Nanteos Grail on Wikipedia

Buy 'The Nanteos Grail' here

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Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr

By Ceri Shaw, 2022-07-26

Ddydd Sadwrn yma bydd y cofiant cyntaf llawn i Dic Penderyn yn cael ei lansio. Gellir prynu Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr gan Sally Roberts Jones yn www.ylolfa.com  ac mewn siopau llyfrau am £9.99. Dilynwch y ddolen  yma  am wybodaeth lawn.

This Saturday the first full biography of Dic Penderyn will be launched. Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr, by Sally Roberts Jones is available in bookshops and  www.ylolfa.com  for £9.99. Follow this  link  for more details.

Dic Penderyn: The Man and the Martyr  will be launched at 10:30am on Saturday, 30 th  July at Aberafan Library (1 st  Floor, Aberafan Shopping Centre, Port Talbot, SA13 1PB). The event is free but spaces are limited, so booking is required. Please contact the Library (01639 763490).

The free concert will be held at the Grand Hotel, Port Talbot, starting at 7pm on Saturday, 30 th  July. Excerpts from  Iniquity / Camwedd  and a performance by singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph. There will also be a book signing with Sally Roberts Jones. To ensure a seat, contact Eirwen Hopkins:  eirwenhopkins@aol.com  / 07873 985527.


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National Hero or Small-town Coward?

By Ceri Shaw, 2022-03-22

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Chapel and Rugby. The lodestars of Welsh cultural life in the twentieth century.  One proclaiming peace and love and the promise of everlasting paradise. The other a brutal  release of pent-up aggression.

What happens when the two come into conflict?

Last Match by debut novelist Martin Rhys answers that question in what early reviews label  ‘an authentic and compelling story’.

Colin Lewis looks set to become Wales’s next rugby superstar. International fame can only  be a matter of time.  But the time is 1939, and off the field, Colin is a different person. For a start, he is a pacifist,  and World War 2 looms large.

When he declares himself a conscientious objector, Colin plummets from local hero to social  pariah. A conchie who needs to be punished for his cowardice.  His girlfriend, Martha, understands the bravery it takes to stand up against the herd for  something you believe in. A warrior to the core, she won’t stand by and watch her man be  persecuted by the bullies. Even when the biggest bully is her own father.

But as the war runs on, and the casualties mount up, can even Martha withstand the pressure?  When the war ends, Colin yearns to get back to the rugby field, the only place he feels  comfortable.  But although the war has ended, cruelty and persecution have not. How much punishment  and humiliation can a proud man take?

Because a pacifist cannot fight back. Can he?

Available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.com .

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Mae'r Lolfa newydd ryddhau argraffiad newydd clawr meddal o Hands off Wales gan Dr Wyn Thomas. Mae'r gyfrol 450 tudalen ar werth mewn siopau llyfrau a  www.ylolfa.com  am £19.99 (yn cynnwys cludiant)

Y Lolfa have released a new paperback edition of Hands of Wales by Dr Wyn Thomas. The 450pp book is avialable in bookshops and  www.ylolfa.com  for £19.99 (p&p inc).

Destined to be the definitive historical analysis of the events leading up to Welsh devolution  - John Jenkins

An important book on an important topic in both Welsh and British history  - Dr Martin Johnes

The established history of the Tryweryn and Anti-Investiture Campaigns  - Dr John Davie


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"Partly as a small curtain-raiser for my coming book The Snow Leopard of Moscow & Other Stories  and partly in the context of what's happening in Ukraine, I've posted on my website some photos I took at Chekhov's house, with some thoughts thereon.

The book will be out  shortly, later this month, all being well. Updates on my site and on Facebook as things hopefully click into place. 

With best wishes,

Matthew G. Rees"

www.matthewgrees.com/events- contact

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An extremely comprehensive, fully illustrated guide to the history and evolution of the castle under Wales' native rulers (c.1066-1283). Spectacular aerial photography, plans and reconstruction drawings examine the various architectural designs and layouts that created the distinctive form of the Welsh castle. 378 pages, full colour, fully illustrated.

Canllaw cynhwysfawr dros ben, wedi'i ddarlunio'n llawn, i hanes ac esblygiad y castell Cymreig yng nghyfnod ei thywysogion cynhenid (c.1066-1283). Ceir ffotograffau trawiadol o'r awyr, cynlluniau ac ail-luniadau o'r adeiladau gan archwilio'r dyluniadau a'r amlinelliadau pensaernïol amrywiol a greodd ffurf arbennig y castell brodorol Cymreig. 378 tudalen, lliw llaw, llawn lluniau & darluniau gwych.

Ar gael yn awr - £19.99 yn unig - yn  www.ylolfa.com  ac yn eich siop lyfrau leol.

Available now - only £19.99 - in  www.ylolfa.com  and in your local bookshop.

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A Nation of Singing Birds  Ronald Rees.jpg Wales is known as ‘the land of song’ and the Welsh are renowned for their love of hymns – perhaps no other nation has sung them with such fervour. This passion is celebrated in a new comprehensive history of hymn writing and singing in Wales and amongst the Welsh diaspora in North America.  A Nation of Singing Birds: Sermon and Song in Wales and Among the Welsh in America  by Ronald Rees looks at the time between the Protestant Revivals in the late 18 th  century until the present day.

Described as “Lively, entertaining, and valuable – a real gem” by the journalist, presenter and newsreader Huw Edwards, the book considers the influences of key figures such as William Williams Pantycelyn and Ira Sankey also examines rhythmic elements in Welsh preaching.

Author, Ronald Rees, said:

“Two particular incidents led to the writing of this book. The most recent was my reading of Barbara Ehrenreich’s  Dancing in the Street . Her book is about the need, manifested throughout human history, for communal expressions of feeling – in dance, parade and song. The other incident was a combined concert and  cymanfa ganu  held at St David’s Hall, Cardiff about forty years ago. The concert performers were members of Rhondda’s peerless Pendyrus Choir, led by the late Glynne Jones. The singing was hair-raising. As the final repeated chorus died, a deeply moved Glynne Jones let the hall grow silent and said quietly and reverently: ‘This is who we are.’”

Painstakingly researched in libraries and archives in both Wales and America, and encompassing information from emigrant letters and diaries and local newspapers of the period, this definitive history tells how hymns and the religious movements and revivals spread via Welsh emigrants to religious communities of the USA. For example, it was a group of Welsh migrants to Utah, led by John Parry, who formed the nucleus of the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

“To engage their audiences, Welsh preachers at home and in America often delivered their sermons with a discernible cadence or rhythm in which sound could be as important as meaning. By combining the persuasive power of the word with the emotive power of music, assemblies could be brought to states ranging from spiritual readiness to hysteria. In our own times there are echoes of the mesmerizing, cadenced style in the recorded speeches of Dr Martin Luther King and the poetry readings of Dylan Thomas. Thomas’s great-uncle, Gwilym Marles Thomas, was a Welsh Congregationalist minister.”

“My objective was to explore how hymns, and the religious movements and Revivals of which they were part, fired the Welsh imagination. The chapels may have emptied but hymns remain our tribal songs,” said Ronald Rees.

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In 2020 the people of Cwmbwrla came together in the face of an unprecedented health crisis to put smiles on each other’s faced and food on each other’s tables. Neighbours became friends, and together they showed Swansea at its best. We believe their stories are worth telling, and contributors including Brynhyfryd-born Mal Pope, local author David Brayley, MP Carolyn Harris and Councillor Peter Black agree.

Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community” tells the stories of individuals, families and groups whose acts of kindness and quiet courage have improved the lives of those around them, year after year. In particular, they’ve improved people’s lives this year, just when it mattered most. The book introduces readers to women and men who stocked up an emergency food resource, created art and craft packs to keep children entertained, cooked, shopped and cared for their neighbours and provided vital medical and social care no matter what the barriers or risks. It introduces readers to the best of Swansea, the best of Wales and the best of people.

We believe the people who’ve breathed life into these streets through wartime and peacetime and made their neighbours feel safe and valued throughout the coronavirus crisis have made their own history.”

Royalties will be reinvested in the community that inspired the book, with all revenue going to Cwmbwrla Community Events , a nonprofit group that funds entertainment and sports activity for children and adults across Cwmbwrla, Manselton, Brynhyfryd, Gendros and Landore.

Circling the Square: Cwmbwrla, Coronavirus and Community” is available in paperback ($7.95) and ebook ($3.99) from Amazon and also at a discounted rate from selected local retailers. Be a part of the Welsh community success story of 2020 and buy this book.



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Central Russia, 1919, a sanatorium cut off by the chaos of the Russian civil war. The murder of the chief doctor sets in motion a nightmarish series of events involving mysterious experiments, the secret police, the Tsar’s double, an enigmatic ‘visitor’, giant corpses, possessed cats, sorcery, and the overwhelming madness of war, in this fantastical and wildly exuberant historical novel. BUY HERE

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A bold and confident n ovel that throws us into the deep end of post-revolutionary Russian life with fervour and wit. There are knowing  no ds to Gogol and Bulgakov but the voice is entirely original, with a gem of a phrase on every page. I love the quizzical, querulous, dry voice and it’s a satisfying whilst sometimes disorientating experience... the characters are larger than life, but the mud is real. Alan Bilton has a real talent for the unexpected l eft-ha nd turn, with lines that turn on a sixpence and surreal narrative twists. It reads like a very modern translation   of a 19th century Russian classic – if that sounds like your kind of thing, you will lov e this book.

Mark Blayney

A brutal, but often witty and tender tale, The End of the Yellow House is a twistedly brilliant emotional
rollercoaster. In experiencing its expansive vistas and claustrophobic tunnels, we learn to distrust the vibrant characters here, as well as the very landscape which they inhabit. A delicious mystery on every page –

David Towsey

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Magic Realism, Surrealism.

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