The authors wish to thank the British Academy for a Major Research Grant, which enabled the researches on Huw T. Edwards. They also extend gratitude to Jenna Phillips for editorial help.
Mirrors of Wales – Life Story as National Metaphor: Case Studies of R. J. Derfel (1824–1905) and Huw T. Edwards (1892–1970)
Version of Record online: 16 DEC 2009
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Historical Association and Blackwell Publishing.
Volume 95, Issue 317, pages 45–63, January 2010
How to Cite
WARD, P. and WRIGHT, M. (2010), Mirrors of Wales – Life Story as National Metaphor: Case Studies of R. J. Derfel (1824–1905) and Huw T. Edwards (1892–1970). History, 95: 45–63. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-229X.2009.00474.x
- Issue online: 16 DEC 2009
- Version of Record online: 16 DEC 2009
The public representation of the lives of individuals forms part of a long literary tradition and biography has often had a didactic purpose. Frequently the purpose was to use life stories as national metaphors, to instil ideas of how nations should behave. In this way, individuals acted as mirrors of the nation. This article examines two case studies in Wales: R. J. Derfel, nineteenth-century socialist, and Huw T. Edwards, twentieth-century trade unionist and Labour politician turned nationalist. It does so in order to explore how their life stories were constructed, by them and others, as representative of Welsh national experience. It considers responses to such acts of contrivance, by the press and the people, in order to investigate the cultural mentalities of Welsh society in which the biographies were read and consumed.