Gareth Alban Davies

(1926 - 2009 / Ton Pentre, Rhondda)

Biography of Gareth Alban Davies

Gareth Alban Davies (30 July 1926 – 9 February 2009), was a Welsh poet, educator and Hispanist who was Cowdray Professor of Spanish at the University of Leeds. Davies translated many Spanish texts into English and Welsh, and was a noted expert on the works of Fernando Arrabal and Federico García Lorca.

Davies was born in Ton Pentre in the Rhondda in 1926. His father was the Rev'd T. Alban Davies, a Congregationalist preacher who practised at Bethesda Church in Ton Pentre. His father was a Welsh speaker and an early member of Plaid Cymru, the Nationalist political party of Wales. His father was a large influence on Davies' morale viewpoint, and instilled in him a nationalistic and egalitarian ethos. While still a schoolboy, Davies was introduced to the Cadwgan Circle, a group of writers and thinkers from the Rhondda, who met at the house of J. Gwyn Griffiths and his wife Käte Bosse-Griffiths. Although the youngest of the group, he contributed to an anthology published by the movement, and used his time with the group to discuss the French and Spanish literature he was studying at Porth Grammar School.

At the age of 18, and with Britain still at war, Davies was conscripted as a Bevin Boy, which saw him working as a coal miner rather than serve active military duty. He continued his studies during this period, relying on discounted books from London's foremost specialised antiquarian book-seller of Catalan and Castilian language, Joan Gili. Despite his educated background, and his chaste values of refraining from smoking, drinking and womanising; in sharp contrast to many of his collier work-mates, Davies enjoyed his three years spent as a coal miner; believing it brought him closer to the working-class man of the Rhondda.

In 1948 Davies was released from service in the coal mines, and won a scholarship to Queens College, Oxford. At Oxford he studied Romance Languages and received an MA and a DPhil, after which he was appointed to an Assistant Lectureship at the University of Leeds. In 1953, whilst in Leeds he married Catherine Glyn Jones; who like Davies was originally from the Rhondda and was also a linguist. Davies settled near Otley and he and Caryl had four children. Although the couple spent thirty years in Yorkshire, they kept a strong connection to Welsh culture and taught all their children to speak Welsh.

After his retirement, Davies moved back to Wales, settling in Llangwyryfon in Ceredigion. He died in Aberystwyth in 2009, having survived Caryl who died in 2007.

Gareth Alban Davies's Works:

Poetry

Baled Lewsyn a'r Mor (1964)
Trigain (1986)
Galar y Culfor (1992)

Factual work

A Poet at Court: Antonio Hurtado de Mendoza, 1586–1644 (1971)
Tan Tro Nesaf (1976)
Dyddiadur Awstralia (1986)

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