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Ann Griffiths collection (18th-20th C.)

Welsh poet and hymn-writer, Ann Griffiths (1776-1805) lived most of her life on a farm called Dolwar Fach in the parish of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa (Mid-Wales). Although she died aged only 29 years, she left poems and letters that are considered among the highlights of Welsh religious literature. Her surviving works consist of just eight letters and 70 stanzas, reflecting an outstanding literary talent, articulating deep religious experiences. Saunders Lewis described her longest poem, Rhyfedd, rhyfedd gan angylion, as ‘one of the majestic songs in the religious poetry of Europe.’

The collection includes all published editions of her works from the 19th-20th century, and all secondary publications discussing her work. Of special importance are the memoirs of John Hughes of Pontrobert and Morris Davies. John Hughes (1775-1854) was an influential Calvinist Methodist preacher who became a spiritual mentor and counsellor to Ann Griffiths soon after her conversion. His short memoir of Ann, published some forty years after her death, is regarded as the single most important source for her life and character. Another key text is a slim volume entitled Casgliad o Hymnau [A Collection of Hymns], printed in Bala in early 1806, which contains a large number of Ann’s stanzas together with the work of other hymn-writers. Many of these stanzas appear to have been edited and rearranged; there are significant differences, in wording and organisation, from the way in which they appear in the copy-books of John Hughes, where they were first recorded. The original Hughes copy-books are now held at the National Library of Wales, but the Cardiff's collection includes a copy of Gwaith Ann Griffiths [The Work of Ann Griffiths], edited by O. M. Edwards and published in 1905, which contains Hughes’ manuscript versions.

Date range: 19th-20th century.

Significance: Significant in Wales and the United Kingdom.

Size: c. 100 items.

Languages: Welsh, English.

Keywords: Ann Griffiths (1776-1805), Welsh poetry, Christian hymns, Wales

Notes: An associated dedicated Ann Griffiths website, ed. by Prof. Wyn James, includes extensive articles discussing her life and work, plus a complete set of digitised versions of the complete library holdings above, plus the only manuscripts of hers to have survived (now held in the National Library of Wales).