Famous Welsh Writers

Find out more about the greatest Welsh Writers, including Roald Dahl, C. S. Lewis, T. E. Lawrence, Samuel Johnson and Dylan Thomas.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas
4
Famous As: Poet & Writer
Birthdate: October 27, 1914
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Swansea
Died: November 9, 1953

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.

 2 Terry Jones

Terry Jones
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: January 21, 2020
Starting his career as a comedy writer, actor-director Terry Jones later soared to fame as part of the Monty Python comedy team. An avid historian, too, he wrote several books and presented TV documentaries on the topic. In his later years, the BAFTA Cymru award winner struggled with dementia. 

 3 Ruth Jones

Ruth Jones
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 22, 1966
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bridgend, Wales, UK

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.  

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 4 Henry Morton Stanley

Henry Morton Stanley
5
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 28, 1841
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Denbigh, Wales
Died: May 10, 1904

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.

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 5 Robert Owen

Robert Owen
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Birthdate: May 14, 1771
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales
Died: November 17, 1858
While working as an apprentice to a clothes manufacturer, Robert Owen often spent hours reading at his employer’s library. He later explored the textile industry and led a Manchester firm. Remembered as a pioneer of the co-operative movement and utopian socialism, he improved the working conditions of factory workers.

 6 George Herbert

George Herbert
3
Famous As: Poet recognized as one of the foremost British devotional lyricists
Birthdate: April 3, 1593
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montgomery, Wales
Died: March 1, 1633

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.

 7 Cerys Matthews

Cerys Matthews
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 11, 1969
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cardiff, Wales, UK

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.

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 8 W. H. Davies

W. H. Davies
3
Famous As: British poet
Birthdate: July 3, 1871
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Newport, Wales
Died: September 26, 1940

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.

 9 Arthur Machen

Arthur Machen
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 3, 1863
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Caerleon, Wales
Died: December 15, 1947

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.

 10 Harry Secombe

Harry Secombe
3
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: September 8, 1921
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Swansea, Wales
Died: April 11, 2001

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

Julian Cope
3
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 21, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Deri, Caerphilly Deri, Monmouthshire (historic) Monmouthshire, Wales

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

David Owen
3
Famous As: politician, physician
Birthdate: July 2, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Plympton

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

Roy Jenkins
3
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: November 11, 1920
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Abersychan, Monmouthshire (historic) Monmouthshire, Wales
Died: January 5, 2003

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

Sarah Waters
3
Famous As: Novelist, Writer
Birthdate: July 21, 1966
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Neyland, Wales

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.

 15 Asser

Asser
3
Famous As: Monk
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Wales
Died: 0909 AD

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.

 16 Andrew Davies

Andrew Davies
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 20, 1936
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rhiwbina, Cardiff, Wales

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

Howard Marks
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 13, 1945
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kenfig Hill, Bridgend, Wales, UK
Died: April 10, 2016

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

R. S. Thomas
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 29, 1913
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cardiff, Wales
Died: September 25, 2000

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.

 19 Henry Vaughan

Henry Vaughan
2
Famous As: Physician, Economist, Poet, Writer
Birthdate: April 17, 1621
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brecknockshire
Died: April 23, 1695

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.

 20 Victor Spinetti

Victor Spinetti
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 2, 1929
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cwm, Ebbw Vale, Wales
Died: June 18, 2012

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.

 21 Penelope Mortimer

Penelope Mortimer
2
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: September 19, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rhyl, Wales
Died: October 19, 1999

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.

 22 Richard Llewellyn

Richard Llewellyn
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 8, 1906
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint David’s, Wales
Died: November 30, 1983

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.

 23 Gwynfor Evans

Gwynfor Evans
2
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: September 1, 1912
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Barry, Wales
Died: April 21, 2005

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.

 24 Howard Spring

Howard Spring
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 10, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cardiff, Wales
Died: May 3, 1965

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.

 25 Aneirin

Aneirin
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 0525 AD
Birthplace: Dumbarton, Wales

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.

 26 Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant
2
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: June 14, 1726
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Downing, Wales
Died: December 16, 1798

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.

 27 Hester Thrale

Hester Thrale
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 27, 1741
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wales
Died: May 2, 1821

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.

 28 Arthur Symons

Arthur Symons
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 28, 1865
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Milford Haven, Wales
Died: January 22, 1945

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.

 29 Dafydd ap Gwilym

Dafydd ap Gwilym
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1320 AD
Birthplace: Ceredigion, Wales
Died: 1350 AD

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.

 30 Elaine Morgan

Elaine Morgan
1
Famous As: Writer for television and the author of several books on evolutionary anthropology
Birthdate: November 7, 1920
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pontypridd, Wales
Died: July 12, 2013

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

Dannie Abse
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 22, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cardiff, Wales
Died: September 28, 2014

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

John Evans
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 11, 1960
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pontypridd

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

Daniel Owen
1
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 20, 1836
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mold, Wales
Died: October 22, 1895

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

Alun Lewis
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 1, 1915
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cwmaman, Wales
Died: March 5, 1944

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.

 35 James Beattie

James Beattie
1
Famous As: Linguist, Poet, Translator, Philosopher, Writer
Birthdate: October 25, 1735
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Laurencekirk, United Kingdom
Died: August 18, 1803

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.

 36 Vernon Watkins

Vernon Watkins
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: June 27, 1906
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Maesteg, Wales
Died: October 8, 1967

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

Kate Roberts
2
Famous As: Welsh writer
Birthdate: February 13, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rhosgadfan, Wales
Died: April 4, 1985

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.

 38 Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd

Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd
1
Famous As: Prince
Birthdate: 1120 AD
Birthplace: Gwynedd, Wales
Died: 1170 AD

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.

 39 Catherine Tregenna

Catherine Tregenna
1
Famous As: Playwright known for Torchwood (2006), The Bench (2001) and Lucky Man (2016)
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Wales

 40 Myfanwy Piper

Myfanwy Piper
1
Famous As: Art Critic
Birthdate: March 28, 1911
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 18, 1997

 41 Ann Griffiths

Ann Griffiths
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 31, 1776
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, Wales
Died: July 31, 1805

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.

 42 John Ceiriog Hughes

John Ceiriog Hughes
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 25, 1832
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, Wales
Died: April 23, 1887

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.

 43 Owen Morgan Edwards

Owen Morgan Edwards
1
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 26, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Llanuwchllyn, Wales
Died: May 15, 1920

 44 William Salesbury

William Salesbury
1
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: 1520 AD
Birthplace: Wales
Died: 1584 AD

 45 Owain Cyfeiliog

Owain Cyfeiliog
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1130 AD
Birthplace: Welsh
Died: 1197 AD

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.

 46 John Morris-Jones

John Morris-Jones
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 17, 1864
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Anglesey, Wales
Died: April 16, 1929

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.

 47 Augustine Baker

Augustine Baker
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 9, 1575
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Abergavenny, Wales
Died: August 9, 1641

 48 Caradoc Evans

Caradoc Evans
1
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: December 31, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Llanfihangel ar Arth, Wales
Died: January 11, 1945

 49 William Morgan

William Morgan
2
Famous As: Bishop
Birthdate: 1545 AD
Birthplace: Penmachno, Wales
Died: September 10, 1604

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

Siôn Cent
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1400 AD
Birthplace: Brycheiniog, Wales
Died: 1430 AD

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.