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R.S. Thomas Festival, Aberdaron & Bangor

The annual festival celebrating the work of R.S. Thomas and his artist wife Mildred ‘Elsi’ Eldridge is to be held in his last parish at Aberdaron, at the tip of the Llŷn, on 29 June -1 July.

Professor Tony Brown, co-director of Bangor University’s R.S. Thomas Research Centre has been involved with the festival for some years. He points out that:

“Two of this year’s speakers have Bangor connections. Professor Daniel Westover came from the USA to study for his PhD on R.S. Thomas and is now a Professor of English in Tennessee. His talk is intriguingly entitled ‘The Poetic Astronaut of the God-Space’.  Dr Sam Perry, now at the University of Hull, also undertook research in the Centre and his book on R.S. Thomas’s response to the English poetic tradition has been published by Cambridge University Press. He is to speak on ‘R.S. Thomas: Chameleon Poet’.”

On the Saturday (30th) Professor John McEllhenney will give a talk on the work of Elsi Eldridge.

Professor Brown comments: “Elsi Eldridge was a fine painter, who studied under Paul Nash and Eric Ravilious at the Royal College of Art in the 1930s. She won a scholarship to Italy in 1934 and John McEllhenney is going to tell the story of her travels in Italy. The Centre’s archive holds a considerable collection of Elsi Eldridge’s letters and sketchbooks as well as her autobiographical journal, which I am currently editing for publication. This will be a fascinating talk–and the setting, at Aberdaron is of course remarkably beautiful.”

On Sunday 1 July, the Festival moves to Bangor cathedral, where there is to be a world premier of a work by Ellen Davies (a Bangor music graduate) entitled Pilgrimages, performed by Ensemble Cymru, with Anne Denholm, the Royal Harpist. This is an orchestral composition, inspired by three of R.S. Thomas’s poems and the landscape of the Llŷn peninsula.

Full details of the festival are at

Publication date: 11 June 2018