Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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LEWIS , LEWIS WILLIAM ( Llew Llwyfo ; 1831 - 1901 ), poet, novelist, and journalist .

Born 31 March 1831 in the village of Pen-sarn , Llanwenllwyfo , Anglesey . As a boy he worked in the Parys copper mines near Amlwch , and was later apprenticed to a Bangor draper . He then opened his own shop at Tal-sarn and after that a school in the same place. In 1852 he was sub-editor of Y Cymro ( Holywell ). In 1855 he went to Liverpool to edit the Amserau , in 1858 to Aberdare as editor of the Gwladgarwr and the Glorian , later to Denbigh where he was on the staff of Y Faner and, later still, to the Herald office at Caernarvon . He was also connected with the Gwron , the Gwalia , and the Genedl . In 1870 he went to the U.S.A. where he remained for some four years as joint editor of the Welsh newspaper , Y Wasg . Subsequently, he paid a second visit to the U.S.A. He organized many concerts both in Wales and in the U.S.A. — as a singer , Llew Llwyfo swept everything before him; he was also an eisteddfod conductor . In one way or another, he was one of the most gifted Welshmen of the 19th cent. He d. 23 March 1901 at Rhyl , and was buried in Llanbeblig cemetery, Caernarvon .

Llew Llwyfo was a writer of ‘heroic’ verse . He won the chair with his ‘ Gwenhwyfar ’ in the Merthyr Tydfil eisteddfod , 1859 ; with ‘ Caradog ’ in the national eisteddfod held at Aberdare , 1861 ; with ‘ Llewelyn ’ in the Rhyl eisteddfod , 1863 ; with ‘ Dafydd ’ in the national eisteddfod held at Aberystwyth , 1865 ; with ‘ Arthur y Ford Gron ’ in the Chester national eisteddfod , 1866 ; with ‘ Elias y Thespiad ’ in Ruthin eisteddfod , 1868 ; with ‘ Gruffydd ap Cynan ’ in the Wrexham national eisteddfod , 1888 ; and with ‘ Ioan y Disgybl Anwyl ’ in the Llanelly national eisteddfod , 1895 . Besides these major awards he won a large number of lesser prizes at various eisteddfodau in Wales and the U.S.A. Here are his principal publications: Awen Ieuanc , 1851 ; Llewelyn Parri: neu y Meddwyn Diwygiedig (novel), 1855 ; Huw Huws neu y llafurwr Cymreig (novel), 1860 ; Llyfr y Llais , 1865 ; Troadau yr Olwyn , 1865 ; Gemau Llwyfo , 1868 ; Y Creawdwr, Cerdd ddysg (didactic poem), 1871 ; Cyfrinach Cwm Erfin and Y Wledd a'r Wyrth (two novels, undated); Buddugoliaeth y Groes (epic poem), 1880 ; Cydymaith yr herwheliwr: neu a gollwyd ac a gafwyd. Chwedl Wledig , 1882 ; Drych y Prif Oesoedd … ynghyd a rhagdraith gan Llew Llwyfo , 1883 ; A Selection of Sacred and Secular Lyrics from the Welsh with English versions by Llew Llwyfo .


  • Bywgraffiad Llew Llwyfo, yn llenyddol, cerddorol, ac eisteddfodol, wedi ei ysrifennu ganddo ef ei hun (Caernarfon, 1886) (Llyfrau Ceiniog Humphreys, Caernarvon);
  • articles about him will be found in Y Geninen , 1901, 1902 ,
  • and in Y Traethodydd , 1911, 1921.


David Gwenallt Jones, M.A., (1899-1968), Aberystwyth

Corrections and additions:

LEWIS , LEWIS WILLIAM (‘ Llew Llwyfo ’.

He was the second of six children. At the age of eight he worked in the Parys copper mines . The draper to whom he was apprenticed in ‘ Siop Goch ’, Dean-street , Bangor ( 1845 ) was Edward Evans , father of Llewellyn Ioan Evans ( 1833 - 1892 ) ; when Evans emigrated to America ( April 1850 ), Llew went to work with John Lewis , clothier at Holyhead , and he married there. Later, he opened a shop at Pen-y-sarn (not Tal-y-sarn ), and was there when he published Awen Ieuanc ( 1851 ). He kept a school at Llanallgo for a short while, but in 1852 he went to live in Llaneilian , as a weigher in a storehouse at Porth Amlwch — before the end of 1852 he went to Holywell , to the office of Y Cymro ; afterwards he went to Wrexham as some kind of ‘visitor’ for the parish priest ; then he went to a clothiers shop in Liverpool . When John Lloyd began publishing Y Cronicl Wythnosol (not Yr Amserau ) in 1855 Llew was appointed editor . This Cronicl ceased in 1857 , and Llew returned to the Cymro at Holywell ; but was soon on the staff of Y Gwron at Aberdare , under Josiah T. Jones ( 1799 - 1873 ) . He quarrelled with his employer before the end of the year, but continued with the Gwladgarwr to the end of 1858 . Then he was employed by Thomas Gee ( 1815 - 1898 ) ; and was at Denbigh in 1862 . During 1863-65 he lived at Rhyl , but was back again at Denbigh by May 1866 . He moved to Newport, Mon. , in 1867 as editor of Y Glorian , in succession to Glasynys ( Owen Wynne Jones , 1828 - 1870 ) . In September 1868 he sailed to America , on a singing tour ; he was also for a short period editor of Y Wasg ( Pittsburg ). He returned in 1874 , and by 1875 he worked in the Herald office at Caernarfon . His whereabouts thereafter are obscure; it is not certain whether he went to America a second time; he worked some time or other on Gwalia at Caernarfon , but by July 1885 that ceased and he is found writing to several persons (such as W.J. Parry , 1842 - 1927 ) seeking employment or financial support. His health deteriorated. He was maintained at Llan-rug for some years by friends. On his return from Liverpool eisteddfod ( 1900 ), he stayed with his son at Rhyl , and d. there 23 Mar. 1901 ; he was buried at Llanbeblig . Append to the sources for his history: Adgofion Llew Llwyfo o'i Ymdaith yn America, ganddo ef ei hun ( Hugh Humphreys , Penny books, second series, no. 63), and letters at N.L.W. and the library of the University College of North Wales ; [ Hywel Teifi Edwards , Llew Llwyfo: arwr gwlad a'i arwrgerdd ( 1999 ); E.W. Rowlands , Y Llew oedd ar y llwyfan ( 2001 )].


Bedwyr Lewis Jones (1933-92), Bangor

Published date: 1959