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Daniel Owen went to Bala C.M. College in 1865 . He did not shine as a student, but he read much English literature. Before the three years’ course was completed he left the college rather suddenly in 1867 to return home to look after his mother and a sister who were ill. He returned to his old master, the tailor ; he afterwards opened a business on his own account but continued to preach . He gave up preaching in 1876 because his health broke down. He recovered slowly, however, and then, on the recommendation of Roger Edwards , began to write some of his sermons and to make word-sketches of some Calvinistic Methodists for Y Drysorfa ; these afterwards appeared under the title of Offrymau Neilltuaeth . He afterwards agreed, again at the request of Roger Edwards , to write Y Dreflan , for publication, chapter by chapter. He then wrote his novel, Rhys Lewis , which was printed, chapter by chapter, in Y Drysorfa between 1882 and 1885 . Afterwards Enoc Huws and Gwen Tomos were published in Y Cymro , a Liverpool weekly newspaper. He d. 22 Oct. 1895 .
Before the time of Daniel Owen it can be said that nothing of importance had appeared in the world of the Welsh novel — in the sense in which the term novel is understood today. Daniel Owen described in Rhys Lewis , Enoc Huws , and Y Dreflan , the Welsh life that revolved around the Welsh chapel ; in Gwen Tomos we get rural society — in all these he described certain characters who formed part of that society. He did not sketch the growth and development of those characters or allow them to work out their respective fates — he described them faithfully as they appeared. It is this wealth of detail which makes his work valuable; he devotes much space to the conversing and the debating which took place among his characters — Saunders Lewis finds in this the influence of the religious ‘Society.’ His greatest weakness, possibly, is that he endeavours to tie each novel into a knot and that he fails to untie that knot easily and naturally. Although many of his characters were persons whom he knew in the flesh, they are, as we find them, his creations. Up to the present, he is our greatest Welsh novelist, in the quality of his work; he is also our most prolific novelist.
Besides the works named above Daniel Owen wrote Y Siswrn ( 1888 ). An English translation of Rhys Lewis appeared in 1889 , and of Enoc Huws in 1894-6 .
Katherine Williams (‘Kate Roberts’), D.Litt., (1891-1985), Denbigh
Published date: 1959