‘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 work of great beauty and subtle force… a fine, distinctive voice.’ Jim Perrin on Pugnacious Little Trolls, a new collection of short stories published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Fiction. ‘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. 10th May 2021: Following Richard Suchorzewski’s vow to ‘return to terrify’ the functional parties of Wales, I would like to announce that I will return to terrify the Nobel Prize for Literature committee. Books: Fiction. ‘Heaving with loss, regret and familial bonds.’ Annexe Magazine on ‘Gemini,’ a short story in Prayer at the End, published by Cockatrice Books. Books: Translations. ‘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: most of his characters lead unremarkable, even humdrum, lives; there are few dramatic plot developments... And yet the best of these pieces express something important...’ 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. Books: Translations. ‘An invaluable translation.’ Angharad Price on Hallowe’en in the Cwm, the short stories of Glasynys, 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. Books: Fiction. ‘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. Books: Anthologies. ‘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. Books: Anthologies: ‘this exemplary collaboration’ (Philip Gross). Dangerous Asylums, an anthology of fiction by leading Welsh writers, inspired by Denbigh Mental Hospital, edited by Rob Mimpriss.

Lynching Postcards and Rituals of Blood

‘Even the Nazis did not stoop to selling souvenirs of Auschwitz, but lynching scenes became a burgeoning subdepartment of the postcard industry. By 1908, the trade had grown so large, and the practice of sending postcards featuring the victims of mob murderers had become so repugnant, that the U.S. Postmaster General banned the cards from the mails.’

Richard Lacayo, ‘Blood at the Root.’ Time, 2nd April 2000.

The following is an eye-witness account of the lynching of a black man, Henry Smith, suspected of killing a police officer’s child. It took place in 1899:

‘At twelve o'clock [his] train was met by a surging mass of humanity 10,000 strong. The Negro was placed upon a carnival float in mockery of a king upon a throne, and, followed by an immense crowd, was escorted through the city (Paris, Texas) so that all might see the most inhuman monster known in current history... His clothes were torn off piecemeal and scattered in the crowd, people catching the threads and putting them away as mementos. The child’s father, her brother, and two uncles then gathered about the Negro as he lay fastened to the torture platform and thrust hot irons into his quivering flesh. It was horrible — the man dying by slow torture in the midst of smoke from his own burning body. Every groan from the fiend, every contortion of his body was cheered by the thickly packed crowd of 10,000 persons, the mass being 600 yards in diameter, the scaffold being the centre. After burning the feet and legs, the hot irons — plenty of fresh ones being at hand — were rolled up and down Smith’s stomach, back and arms. Then the eyes were burned out and irons thrust down his throat.’

Another lynching of a black man suspected of murder is described in a newspaper article, and also took place in 1899. In this case, the cooked flesh of the victim was consumed by participants and witnesses of the auto da fé:

‘In the presence of nearly 2000 people, who sent aloft yells of defiance and shouts of joy, Sam Holt was burned at the stake on a public road. Before the torch was applied to the pyre, the Negro was deprived of his ears, fingers, and other portion of his body with surprising fortitude. Before the body was cool, it was cut to pieces, the bones were crushed into small bits and even the tree upon which the wretch met his fate was torn up and disposed of as souvenirs. The Negro’s heart was cut in small pieces, as was also his liver. Those unable to obtain the ghastly relics directly paid more fortunate possessors extravagant sums for them. Small pieces of bone went for 25 cents, and a bit of liver, crisply cooked, for 10 cents.’

When those who had been burnt to death were subsequently part eaten, the lynchings were described as ‘barbecues’ and remembered fondly for their carnival and community atmosphere by those who participated. The following account, by a NAACP official, describes the effect of participating in such events on children:

‘[In Florida one morning,] I walked along the road which led from a beautiful little town to the spot where five Negros had been burned [a few years before]. Three shining-eyed, healthy, cleanly children, headed for school, approached me. As I neared them, the eldest, a ruddy-cheeked girl of nine or ten, asked if I was going to the place where “the niggers” had been killed. I told her I might stop and see the spot. Animatedly, almost joyously as though the memory were of Christmas morning or the circus, she told me — of “the fun we had burning the niggers.”’

These accounts are quoted in the second chapter of Orlando Patterson’s book, Rituals of Blood: Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries (1998). Among the other practices it describes is the commonplace crucifixion of rebellious slaves by Christian slaveowners, and the ritualisation and commercialisation of torture and execution. Its thesis is that the racist after-effects of slavery persist in America at the end of the 20th Century. And it seems that we are still finding black men hanging from trees.

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, an anthology of Welsh fiction translated by Hala Salah Eldin, and to Land of Change, an anthology of radical writing forthcoming from Culture Matters. My work has appeared in Albawtaka Review, Annexe Magazine, Blue Tattoo, Cambrensis, Catharsis, East of the Web, The Harbinger, The Interpreter’s House, New Welsh Review, New Writing, Otherwise Engaged, The Swansea Review, Tears in the Fence, Writing in Education, and elsewhere. I hold a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing, and am former Artistic Coordinator of the North Wales Mental Health Research Project convened by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. In 2011 I was elected to membership of the Welsh Academy in recognition of my contributions to Welsh writing.

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), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.