Dylan Thomas was a Welsh writer and poet who published popular poems, such as Do not go gentle into that good night, which was popularized in the 2014 movie, Interstellar, where Michael Caine's character recites the poem throughout the film. Dylan Thomas achieved tremendous popularity during his lifetime and remains popular after his untimely death at the age of 39.
Welsh actor Ruth Jones apparently wasn’t too confident of her being accepted into a drama school and thus had only applied to one, the Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she ended up being accepted. The fine comedian is known for appearing in and co-writing the BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey.
Henry Morton Stanley was a Welsh-American explorer, journalist, colonial administrator, soldier, politician, and author. He is remembered for his exploration of central Africa and his search for the source of the River Nile. Stanley received an honorary title of knighthood in 1899. His life and career inspired the 1939 movie Stanley and Livingstone, where Stanley was played by Spencer Tracy.
George Herbert was an orator, poet, and priest of the Church of England. Although he is regarded as one of the most important British devotional lyricists, Herbert's poetry is often associated with the works of popular metaphysical poets. He was also a collector of proverbs and his collection was published in 1640.
Best known for hosting music shows on various BBC Radio networks, singer-songwriter Cerys Matthews had also previously established the Welsh band Catatonia. She also writes and presents documentaries and has been a reporter for the TV magazine The One Show. Her album Tir has been the best-selling Welsh album in a decade.
After losing his father at age 3, Georgian poet W. H. Davies was raised by his grandparents. He later spent moving from place to place in the US and Canada, taking up odd jobs, and even lost his right foot while trying to jump a freight train.
Welsh writer Arthur Machen was a master of science-fiction and horror. He soared to fame with his novella The Great God Pan, which later achieved cult status. However, in spite of his literary fame, he continued to live in poverty, working as a journalist, a clerk, and a teacher.
Welsh actor/comedian Harry Secombe soared to fame with The Goon Show. Part of the British army during World War II, he would often perform comedy acts for the troops. Known for his slapstick comedy, he was also a talented singer. He later hosted religious shows such as ITV’s Highway.
11 Julian Cope
Apart from being a popular post-punk musician who soared to fame with the band The Teardrop Explodes, Julian Cope has also been a self-styled occultist and a cosmic shaman. Apart from penning volumes on musicology and archaeology, he has also written a fiction novel and a 2-volume memoir.
12 David Owen
Apart from co-establishing the Social Democratic Party, British politician David Owen has previously also been a practicing physician. His many important posts include that of the foreign affairs secretary of state. He has also been part of major nuclear disarmament groups and has headed the Liverpool University as its chancellor.
13 Roy Jenkins
Born to an MP father who was also associated with the mine workers’ union, Roy Jenkins grew up to be Labour Party member and then became the first to lead the Social Democratic Party. An Oxford alumnus, he later led his alma as its chancellor.
14 Sarah Waters
British author Sarah Waters soared to fame with her debut novel, Tipping the Velvet, and is known to include lesbian protagonists in her writings. Three of her books have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Initially an academic, she also has a PhD in LGBT fiction. She is herself openly lesbian.
Ninth-century Welsh monk Asser was a close associate and biographer of the West Saxon king Alfred the Great. Nothing much is known about his early life, though he eventually rose to become the bishop of Sherborne, Dorset. Some historians have suggested his Life of King Alfred may have been a work of forgery.
Acclaimed British screenwriter and novelist Andrew Davies is known for his adaptations of novels such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, House of Cards, and Pride and Prejudice. His original screenplays include A Poet In New York. Initially a grammar school teacher, he had later also been an English lecturer.
17 Howard Marks
An Oxford alumnus, Dennis Howard Marks was an aspiring teacher before chose the world of drugs. He went from consuming cannabis to selling it, and was eventually jailed for 7 years. He used numerous pseudonyms, such as Mr. Nice and Marco Polo, and also penned a bestselling memoir.
18 R. S. Thomas
One of the most prominent modern Welsh poets, R. S. Thomas is remembered for his cold style of depicting the reality of his country. Born to a sailor, he grew up in port towns and grew up to become an Anglican priest. Many of his poems contain the character Iago Prytherch.
Anglo-Welsh metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan was a major literary figure of the Commonwealth period and is best remembered for Silex Scintillans. While he initially studied law, the Civil War disrupted his studies and he was called back home to serve Sir Marmaduke Lloyd. He was also a practicing physician.
Actor, author, and raconteur Victor Spinetti initially gained fame with his appearances in films of The Beatles. He later appeared in many comic roles in films such as The Taming of The Shrew. He was also a Tony Award-winning Broadway performer. He eventually succumbed to pancreatic cancer.
Costa Book Award-winning Anglo-Welsh journalist Penelope Mortimer is best remembered for her iconic novel The Pumpkin Eater, which was later made into a film. An expert in writing feminist fiction, her works included plots of broken marriages. Her father, a clergyman, had apparently sexually abused her in childhood.
Welsh novelist Richard Llewellyn is best remembered for his bestselling novel How Green Was My Valley, which was later filmed, too. While he initially studied hotel management in Italy, he later also worked in the army, and then became a reporter and a screenwriter and mostly lived a nomadic life.
A qualified lawyer, Gwynfor Evans later rose to lead the Plaid Cymru party as its president and later also became an MP. He focused on full-time writing after his retirement from politics. His full-fledged history of Wales, Aros Mae, or Land of my Fathers, became a bestseller.
Though Welsh author Howard Spring had quit studies at age 11, he was able to start his career as a journalist due to his evening classes, while working as an office boy. He later soared to fame with his bestselling novel O Absalom!, later released as My Son, My Son.
Aneirin was a Brythonic war poet best remembered for his medieval Welsh poem, Y Gododdin. Believed to have been a court poet or bard in a Cumbric kingdom in present-day Scotland, Aneirin is often referred to as the prince of bards. His works are preserved in a manuscript called the Book of Aneirin.
Welsh naturalist Thomas Pennant is remembered for his extensive research on zoology, especially ornithology. Known for his books such as British Zoology and History of Quadrupeds, he traveled to Scotland and remote parts of Britain, writing about his expeditions in his travelogues and treatises.
A close associate of Samuel Johnson, Hester Thrale was married to an affluent brewer named Henry Thrale but, following Henry’s death, got married to her daughter’s Italian music teacher. A renowned diarist, she released volumes of letters and anecdotes of Samuel Johnson after Johnson’s death.
Considered a pioneer of French Symbolism in English poetry, Arthur Symons was mostly homeschooled in childhood and later moved to London, joining the Rhymers’ Club and other literary societies. He is chiefly remembered for his works such as Days and Nights and Silhouettes. He recovered from a serious bout of mental illness later.
One of the most influential poets in the history of Welsh literature, Dafydd ap Gwilym is remembered for his odes and rhymed couplets. His poems, such as Morfudd like the sun, mostly explore themes of nature and romantic love, and showcase a prominent influence of troubadours.
Best remembered for her book The Descent of Woman, author Elaine Morgan was a 2-time BAFTA-winning TV write, who had penned many adaptations, and a scientific theorist. She propagated the aquatic ape theory of human evolution, suggesting that all other theories had been negligent of a woman’s role in evolution.
31 Dannie Abse
Apart from establishing himself as one of the most prominent Welsh poets of his time, Dannie Abse also worked full-time as a physician. The Cholmondeley Award-winning poet, known for volumes such as Pythagoras, White Coat, Purple Coat, and Running Late, was also a memoirist and an editor.
32 John Evans
Welsh author and filmmaker John Evans had begun his career with the punk band The Tax Exiles. He later became a leading figure of the Welsh New Wave literary movement. Apart from novels such as Giants, he has also penned non-fiction. He also launched the environmental organizations Save The Badger and Raptor Watch.
33 Daniel Owen
The national novelist of Wales, Daniel Owen was born to a coal miner who died when his mine was flooded. Growing up amid poverty, he was initially trained as a tailor but later focused on literature. He is remembered for his novels such as Y Dreflan and his numerous poems and short stories.
34 Alun Lewis
Born to school teacher parents, Welsh poet Alun Lewis had shown his interest in poetry since childhood. After failing in his journalism career, he began teaching. During World War II, he joined the army and later began penning his war experiences as poems and short stories. He later accidentally shot himself to death.
James Beattie was a Scottish philosopher, moralist, educator, and poet. His philosophical writings and poetry, which opposed slavery, are widely viewed as the primary source of Immanuel Kant's knowledge of David Hume. James Beattie, who was among the members that established the Royal Society of Edinburgh, is one of the 16 personalities depicted on the famous Scott Monument.
Welsh poet Vernon Watkins was a close associate of poet Dylan Thomas and is remembered for his published volume of letters that Thomas had written to him. A Cambridge alumnus, he later worked as clerk in a bank and simultaneously wrote poems. His themes mostly revolve around Welsh legends.
37 Kate Roberts
Author Kate Roberts was perhaps the first woman to make a significant impact in Welsh literature. The poverty and harsh living standards of Welsh villages was the predominant theme of most of her writings. She was mostly known for her short story collections, such as Tea in the Heather.
Welsh warrior prince Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd was also a talented poet who introduced the Welsh to courtly love songs. The son of Owain the Great, the king of North Wales, Hywel was instrumental in the occupation of Ceredigion. His poems were later released in The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales.
Welsh poet Ann Griffiths is remembered for her scriptural and spiritual themes in her works. It’s believed she would often recite her poems to her maid. Following her death after childbirth at age 29, her maid and the maid’s husband, who was a Calvinistic Methodist minister, published her poems.
Welsh poet John Ceiriog Hughes initially worked odd jobs, as a grocer’s assistant, a clerk, and a railway station master. After winning several poetry prizes, he published his first volume, Evening Hours. Often compared to Robert Burns due to his impact on poetry, he explored Welsh folk tunes extensively.
Owain Cyfeiliog, a warrior prince from the Welsh kingdom of Powys, was also a talented poet. Only one poem penned by him, Hirlas Owain, remains preserved to this day, but it is considered one of the finest in Welsh literature. He spent most of his life supporting the king of England.
Welsh academic John Morris-Jones was closely associated with the faculty of what is now known as Bangor University. Initially a student of math, he switched his focus to Welsh language and literature later. His efforts at infusing classical standards into Welsh poetry got him knighted later.
Anglican bishop William Morgan went down in history as the first to translate the Bible into Welsh. The bishop of Llandaff and St. Asaph, Morgan virtually added to the work already done by Welsh author William Salesbury, who had translated the New Testament and The Book of Common Prayer.
50 Siôn Cent
Though not much is known about Welsh poet Siôn Cent, it’s believed he disliked the flattery of nobles that was prominent in the verses of the bards of his time. He infused a freshness in the treatment of spiritual themes in Welsh poetry. A poem in praise of Brecknockshire remains his best-known work.