Former home of translator Thomas Hudson-Williams, Caernarfon

Former home of translator Thomas Hudson-Williams, Caernarfon

Thomas Hudson-Williams (1873-1961) lived here  from 1873 until 1905. He was a linguist and prolific translator of European literature into Welsh.

His father kept a draper’s shop on Y Maes (Castle Square) but died soon after his birth. His mother Margaret then moved with her infant son to live here, 25 Wellington Terrace. This was the home of her widowed mother, Jane Hudson. In 1905 Thomas married Gwladys Williams of Bangor. The marriage produced three children.

After leaving Friars School, Bangor, Thomas read Classics, French and Celtic Languages at University College of North Wales, Bangor. He then studied Celtic Languages and Comparative Linguistics in Germany with the renowned scholar Heinrich Zimmer, who later stayed here when studying local dialects. In 1904 Thomas was appointed Professor of Greek at Bangor, a post he held until his retirement in 1940.

Picture of cover of book translated by T Hudson-WilliamsFor him, Caernarfon was the best place, and its dialect the best language, in the world. Atgofion o Gaernarfon (1950), his book of recollections of the town and its characters, included an extensive list of local dialect words. In it he also cited the work of local historian John Wynne, an earlier resident here.

Through his life, Thomas championed the use of colloquial Welsh when translating from other European languages. This was a direct challenge to those who advocated a standardised literary language, a matter of lively debate. He began to learn Russian in 1931, and from then until his death he translated works by the Russian masters into colloquial Welsh. The photo shows the cover of his translation of Turgenev’s Fathers & Sons.

His many other translations include prose, poetry and drama from Old Persian, Greek, Polish, French, Irish and Czech. “For him, translation was a patriotic act, providing native Welsh speakers with the opportunity to enjoy foreign literature without turning to English translations,” says Dr Sam Jones, an authority on Thomas Hudson-Williams.

With thanks to Averill Lukic, of Caernarfon Civic Society

Postcode: LL55 2HH    View Location Map

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