Childhood home of Caradog Prichard, Bethesda

Childhood home of Caradog Prichard, Pen y Bryn, Bethesda

It was in this house, Llwyn Onn, that Caradog Prichard (1904-1980) spent his early childhood. His largely autobiographical novel Un Nos Ola Leuad (One Moonlit Night) had a big influence on Welsh literature and has been translated into many languages.

Caradog’s father John was involved in the Great Strike at Penrhyn quarry (1900-1903), probably returning to work before the end. John died in a quarry accident in 1905. Caradog and his two older brothers grew up in poverty while their mother Margaret suffered worsening mental illness. She lived in the mental hospital in Denbigh from 1923 until her death in 1954.

Caradog left Bethesda County School in 1922 and became a journalist, initially with Yr Herald Cymraeg, then the Western Mail in Cardiff and later the News Chronicle and Daily Telegraph in London. He burst onto the Welsh literary scene by winning the National Eisteddfod’s Crown in 1927, 1928 and 1929. No poet had previously won the Crown in three successive years, and he was its youngest recipient in 1927.

He married Cardiff schoolteacher Mattie Adele Gwynne Evans in 1933. He was called up in 1942 and spent the last two years of the Second World War writing propaganda at the Foreign Office in Delhi.

Un Nos Ola Leuad, published in 1961, is his only novel. It has been translated into many languages and presented in radio, TV, stage and film adaptations. Set during the First World War, it closely reflects Caradog’s upbringing in Bethesda. It broke new ground for Welsh-language fiction in its portrayal of madness, suicide and sexual perversion – previously taboo. It used “stream of consciousness” to convey the main protagonist’s thoughts, and Bethesda dialect replaced the usual formal Welsh.

Caradog’s politics (Conservative) also set him apart from the Welsh literary mainstream, as did his Anglican religion (most Welsh-language writers were Nonconformists).

After retiring in 1972, he wrote an autobiography (Afal Drwg Adda) and occasional newspaper pieces. He died in February 1980 and is buried at Coetmor cemetery, Bethesda.

With thanks to Menna Baines, author of ‘Yng Ngolau'r Lleuad: Ffaith a Dychymyg yng Ngwaith Caradog Prichard’, Gwasg Gomer

Postcode: LL57 3BD    View Location Map