Tribute to Emyr Humphreys

8 October 2020 - 10:52am

Tribute to Emyr Humphreys

8 October 2020 - 10:52am

Emyr Humphreys, the great novelist of twentieth century Wales died on 30 September, at the great age of 101. It is an irony that one of Emyr’s later story collections, published in 2003 when he was a mere 84 year old, was titled Old People Are a Problem, yet age was no problem for him: his final story collection, The Woman at the Window appeared in 2009, while a collection of unpublished poems, Shards of Lights was published to mark his centenary in 2019. It was the last book in a seventy-three year publishing career, in the two languages of Wales.

Emyr’s long career was marked by prize-winning novels and ambitious projects like the Land of the Living series, a seven novel sequence charting the history of Wales in the twentieth century. Wales and Welshness were his abiding subjects, perhaps most successfully distilled in an early rites of passage novel, A Toy Epic, and the sweeping Outside the House of Baal. He also wrote poetry, plays, a cultural history and scripted tv and radio programmes.

Seren was lucky enough to publish six original works including The Gift of a Daughter which won Welsh Book of the Year, plus his three classic books, and will be making more of his backlist available in the coming months. Emyr was delightful and professional to work with, as astute in his relationships as he was in his writing, generous in his dealings with people and wholehearted in his support of colleagues. We shall miss him, as a person and as an author; Wales will miss him as an unparalleled commentator on the country and people he loved.

Mick Felton