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Historian sets scene for autobiographical production by Welsh dramatist

10 May 2022

Cardiff lecturer shares insights in National Theatre talk

Senior Lecturer in Modern Welsh History Dr Stephanie Ward is sharing an insight into the world dramatist Emlyn Williams recreated in his semi-autobiographical The Corn is Green as part of the National Theatre production.

Tracing the social and cultural history of late 19th and early 20th century Wales, Dr Ward draws on education, class and the domestic lives of people living in Welsh speaking coal-mining communities at this time of massive social change for talk A Short History of Modern Wales, accompanying the production.

When Miss Lily Moffat arrives in rural North Wales in The Corn is Green, she is determined to help young local miners out of poverty by teaching them to read and write. Spotting talent in the unruly Morgan Evans despite facing growing community resistance, the inspirational teacher does everything in her power to forge him a new future.

The hit play was inspired by Williams’ grammar  school teacher Sarah Grace Cooke. Cooke encouraged Williams in his early education through to supporting his successful attempt to secure a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford.

In this production, Nicola Walker  joins a list of acclaimed actors to have played Lily Moffat, with Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn appearing in major film productions in 1945 and 1979 respectively.

Flintshire-born Emlyn Williams writer, dramatist and actor (1905-1978) penned scores of plays, appearing in numerous theatre productions and films.

The National Theatre production of The Corn is Green runs in London until 11 June (with talk A Short History of Modern Wales, 13 May, 18:00 in the Cottesloe Room).

Senior Lecturer in Welsh History, Dr Stephanie Ward has particular research interests in the economic and social history of modern Wales, gender history in 20th century Britain and comparative and regional histories of Britain.

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