Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Saunders Lewis

John Saunders Lewis was a Welsh poet, dramatist and political activist, who wrote in both the English and Welsh languages. Born in 1893 in Cheshire, he became lecturer in Welsh at University College, Swansea, and produced his best-known work of literary criticism, "A School of Welsh Augustans", in 1924. His experiences in World War I, and his sympathy for the cause of Irish independence, brought him to nationalism, and in 1925 he co-founded Plaid Cymru, becoming its president in the following year. In 1932, he converted to Roman Catholicism.

In 1936, with two others, Lewis was involved in an arson attack on an air force base at Penrhos, for which he was imprisoned, losing his lecturing post as a result. The sequence of events raised his personal profile and that of Plaid Cymru. He continued to write, becoming a prominent literary and political figure, and in 1952 was given a senior lectureship at Cardiff. After his retirement in 1957, he continued to express militant views, lending his support to Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg. In 1970, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. His works include nineteen plays, poetry, novels and essays. He wrote mostly in Welsh but also in English. By the time of his death, he was the most celebrated of living Welsh writers.