Portraits of Famous Welsh Writers: Kate Roberts

The art historian, Peter Lord, refers to the custom among the Victorian and Edwardian Welsh of decorating their homes with portraits of the hoelion mawr: literally, the ‘big nails’ of the Nonconformist movement whose preaching had earned them a kind of celebrity status. This series considers seminal portraits and photographs of some of the greatest Welsh writers of the Twentieth Century.

Ferociously talented, politically engaged, and morally committed, Kate Roberts wrote short stories, novels and autobiography commemorating the Welsh-speaking culture of the hills above Caernarfon during the slate-quarrying years, the poverty of the South Wales Valleys during the Great Depression, and the growing affluence and self-satisfaction of Denbighshire during the post-war years. This website contains an essay discussing her short-story craft, and a translation of an interview she gave to Saunders Lewis, in which she makes no apologies for the seriousness of her work.

Kate Roberts refused to have a television, claiming that there was nothing worth watching, but when staying with friends, she spent long periods glued to the set. In this photograph, captured during the 1970s, we find her entranced by an early episode of the soap opera, Pobol y Cwm.

Telescope Fish, Gigantura indica | Image Source

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