chapter  6
Serial Literature and Radical Poetry in Wales at the End of the Eighteenth Century
Pages 16

Until 1804, when the Swansea Cambrian was founded, no newspaper was published in Wales itself,11 but that does not mean that the Welsh middling sorts, those most receptive to radical and reformist ideas, did not come by the latest news. Even in 1738, Robert Pritchard, a sea captain from Pentraeth on Anglesey, wrote in a poem that it was ‘the pleasure of many a Welshman to read the English news of Chester or London’ (‘Pleser llawer Cymro yw darllain, Newyddion seisnig Caer neu Lundain’).12 Ballads in north Wales mentioned that newspapers were received ‘every second day’ (‘bob yn ail [d]dydd’).13 e letters and notebooks of Welsh radicals such as the stonemason Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg) in Glamorgan, the weaver omas Evans (Tomos Glyn Cothi) in Carmarthenshire and the cobbler John Davies (Siôn Dafydd y Crydd) in Cardiganshire, show that metropolitan as well as provincial serials were sold in Welsh shops and that the radical material they contained was read and copied avidly and repeatedly.14 e Welshmen gathered in the displaced public sphere of the Gwyneddigion and Cymreigyddion societies in London contributed radical poetry to metropolitan serial publications,15 but they also sent it back home to Wales by contributing to the newly resurrected eisteddfod competitions and publishing in the provincial newspapers, almanacs and periodicals circulating in Wales.16