‘freely and fiercely inventive short stories… supercharged with ideas.’ Jon Gower, reviewing Pugnacious Little Trolls by Rob Mimpriss for Nation Cymru. ‘Where is the Welsh short story going? Wherever Rob Mimpriss takes it.’ John O’Donoghue. Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Bathed in white fire in every sense... Borges would happily own them.’ Gee Williams on Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘A fine Welsh writer working under the radar who deserves to be much better known.’ Nation Cymru greeting Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Beyond question Wales’s finest and most subtle short-story writer working today... A work of great beauty and subtle force, a fine, distinctive voice.’ Jim Perrin on Pugnacious Little Trolls. ‘Zestful playfulness... along with a grand energy and capacity for invention.’ Jon Gower reviewing Pugnacious Little Trolls for Nation Cymru. ‘Dark, complex, pensively eloquent’ (Sophie Baggott, New Welsh Review) — Reasoning, For His Warriors and Prayer at the End, three short-story collections now published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Heaving with loss, regret and familial bonds.’ Annexe Magazine on ‘Gemini,’ a short story in Prayer at the End, published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Lucid, skilful, and above all, of enormous timely relevance’ (Jim Perrin). Rob Mimpriss’s new translation of Morgan Llwyd’s allegorical masterpiece, A Book of Three Birds. ‘There is nothing ostentatious about his writing... And yet the best of these pieces express something important about psychology and human relationships, and the sparseness of the writing is capable of considerable power.’ Brian George, The Short Review. ‘These stories are a rare kind of joy. Even when they approach moments of discontent and danger they bring an optimism founded in human relationships. This is a wonderful collection.’ Prof. Graëme Harper, editor, New Writing. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Owen Wynne Jones, translated by Rob Mimpriss. ‘Humour and pity often arise from the characters’ inability to understand themselves and those close to them. In suggesting the truth and the self-deception Mimpriss not only engages our sympathy but makes us question our assumptions about ourselves.’ Caroline Clark, gwales.com ‘Quietly written, contemplative... whose powerhouse is the depth of its moral reflection.’ Siân Preece, Rhys Davies Competition on ‘Hamilton Park,’ published in Prayer at the End. ‘An immaculate collection.’ Nigel Jarrett, twice winner of the Rhys Davies Award, on Prayer at the End, a collection of short stories by Rob Mimpriss published by Cockatrice Books. ‘Through the stealthy movements of his prose, Rob Mimpriss enacts the quiet enigma of people’s lives and relationships. The result is an understated fiction of compelling intensity.’ Prof M Wynn Thomas. ‘The story is called ‘Valiant’ in the collection, For His Warriors. I recommend it. Highly. It feels to me already like a classic.’ Fiona Owen, editor, Scintilla. ‘A quiet writer with a loud voice... I’ll be listening for more.’ Michael Nobbs, gwales.com on Reasoning: Twenty Stories, published by Cockatrice Books. ‘In the most seemingly unremarkable of Rob Mimpriss’s pieces there is a skill, and a mystery and elusiveness to that skill, which other short-story writers might envy.’ Gee Williams. ‘Industry in the Country of the Blind,’ new fiction in Land of Change, radical prose from Wales edited by Gemma Howell and forthcoming from Culture Matters. ‘This exemplary collaboration’ (Philip Gross). Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of fiction by leading Welsh writers, inspired by Denbigh Mental Hospital, edited by Rob Mimpriss.

Image taken from the Universities’ and Colleges’ Union website

The Four F***s: Apathy, Indifference and Industrial Inaction at University

I have been working in university seminar rooms for a little under twenty-five years. As a post-graduate student, I became aware that students were not always seen as developing minds, as partners in the education project, as future writers and thinkers, but in many cases as a drain on their tutors’ intelligence and time.

As I began my own teaching career, I started to see the reasons behind those complaints. I have turned up to deliver a 9am seminar, waited for half an hour for even one student to appear, and gone home; I have marked work that would struggle to seem satisfactory from a schoolchild; and I have left the classroom with my handouts still in my bag because my students showed so little willingness to comment and debate that we had not even begun the process of thought that the printed materials were meant to develop. When I recounted these experiences to colleagues, they were met, for the most part, with resignation and sympathy. Words like ‘apathy’ and ‘indifference’ were used. My teaching career, my writing and my scholarship began to merge as I drew on Latané and Darley’s research into bystander apathy, and Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments, to understand, and help my students understand the atmosphere in those classrooms.(1)

If my colleagues understood my struggles with my students, I had struggles with the institution itself, to which only some seemed sympathetic. As a sessional tutor, I signed roughly thirty contracts with my employer over a nine-year period, in each case effectively denying that I had any employment history at that university, or had acquired employment rights under European law. During the summers, I was unemployed and without income, or with benefit levels of income that required me to seek other work, and endured the inconvenience and uncertainty of preparing teaching materials that I might not be required to use. I was subject not only to the vagaries of student recruitment, but to the decisions of my managers. I was removed from a module for which I had prepared, because the visiting professor’s wife wanted an hour or two a week of part-time work during the year she would be staying in Britain. Despite her desire to do a little teaching, this university was not a happy place to work. A disabled student was considering legal action against them on the grounds of discrimination. During negotiations, the university mentioned by a name a tutor who had challenged his terms of employment on legal grounds, and then left the university, as an example of what could be done to those who took the university to the courts.

The Universities and Colleges Union recently reballotted its members on industrial action as a part of its Four Fights:(2) to address low pay, to reduce overwork, to challenge racial and sexual inequalities, and to curb such casualisation, which wrecks the professional and personal prospects of a huge proportion of British universities’ staff.

Many branches failed to meet the 50% turnout which is the legal quorum. In the first university for which I worked, the turnout was approximately 25%. That colleagues who accuse their students of apathy and laziness should have failed to post their ballot papers with a couple of ticks, eviscerating the union’s stance and consigning their colleagues to poverty, uncertainty, humiliation, and exhaustion, angers me beyond words.

  1. Rob Mimpriss, ‘Writing and the Problem of Will: The Creative Writing Workshop and the Stanley Milgram Paradigm.’ New Writing (6:1), 57-66. DOI: 10.1080/14790720802582559. Available on site here.
  2. ‘Four Fights reballot results and next steps.’ University and College Union, 11th April 2021.

I am the author of four short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End and Pugnacious Little Trolls in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I am a contributor with Nigel Jarrett, Rachel Trezise, Tristan Hughes and others to Brush with Fate (Albawtaka, 2014), an anthology of Welsh fiction in Arabic translation by Hala Salah Eldin, to Land of Change (Culture Matters), and to Creative Writing Studies (Multilingual Matters, 2007), essays on writing as an academic discipline edited by Graëme Harper and Jeri Kroll, and of the foreword to Rivers of Wales by Jim Perrin (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, forthcoming).

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017), and of fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros. I was Artistic Coordinator of the North Wales Mental Health Research Project convened by Prof. David Healy at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and am the editor of Cockatrice Books. I hold a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing from Portsmouth University, and in 2011 I was invited to membership of the Welsh Academy in acknowledgement of my contributions to Welsh writing.