Mary-Ann Constantine works on Romantic-era Welsh literature in both Welsh and English. She took her first degree in English Literature at Clare College, Cambridge (1988–91), and stayed on to do a PhD in Breton folklore. She moved to Aberystwyth in 1995 and held a succession of Research Fellowships in the Welsh Department, University of Aberystwyth. During this period she taught various topics in Welsh and Celtic Studies, and continued her work on the ballad tradition in Brittany. She joined the Centre as leader of the Iolo Morganwg project in March 2002.
Mary-Ann’s work is concerned with the relations between and mutual influence of the different cultures and languages of Britain (and to some extent beyond) in the late-C18th and early-C19th centuries. Her current work is focused on travel writing, the Welsh Tour, and the writings of Thomas Pennant (1726-98). In 2013, with Professor Nigel Leask (Glasgow) she organized two British Academy-sponsored workshops on Pennant’s Tours of Wales and Scotland. Work from these events formed the basis of a successful grant application to the AHRC for a major four-year project: Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour 1760-1820. This project began in September 2014, and involves transcribing Pennant’s vast and scattered correspondence, as well as publishing a number of later Welsh and Scottish tours. Reflecting Pennant’s own wide-ranging interests, this is an excitingly interdisciplinary project, exploring the period’s attitude to the British ‘peripheries’ through art, literature, history, antiquarianism and the natural sciences. For more on the project visit www.curioustravellers.ac.uk.
Mary-Ann has a particular interest in the interactions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms, and between oral and written sources. Her work in the past has looked at the transformation of folk material by collectors and editors for a literate (and Romantic) public. Issues of authenticity and ownership, and the weight attached to such ‘national’ traditions, are also central to her work on Iolo Morganwg. Her monograph The Truth Against the World (2007) compares Iolo’s work with that of other supposed literary ‘forgers’ of the period, James Macpherson, Thomas Chatterton and the Breton Hersart de La Villemarqué.
In 2009 Mary-Ann was awarded an AHRC research grant to establish a four-year project on ‘Wales and the French Revolution’. The project grew out of an increasing frustration at the relative invisibility of Wales in Romantic-period criticism, even in so-called ‘Four Nations’ writing. Its aim has been to bring Welsh material (in both languages) to the attention of scholars in the period, while exploring the constraints of genre on the expression of political thought. With Dafydd Johnston, Mary-Ann is general editor of the resulting volumes, which include printed ballads, letters, newspaper articles, poetry, pamphlets and sermons. Her own contribution to the series, co-edited with Paul Frame, is an edition of a letters written from revolutionary France by a Glamorgan-based scientist and Dissenting minister: Travels in Revolutionary France & A Journey Across America by George Cadogan Morgan and Richard Price Morgan (UWP, 2012).
Mary-Ann has also published two collections of short stories: The Breathing (Planet, 2008) and All the Souls (Seren, 2013). A novel, Star-Shot, came out with Seren in 2015.
Mary-Ann is currently supervising a PhD on 'Ancient British' Identities in C18th Britain, and another on Northern English Travellers to Wales and Scotland (1760-1820). She welcomes proposals for research into any aspect of the literature (in Welsh and/or English) of Romantic-era Wales, and particularly work relating to the Welsh Tour.
"Impertinent Structures": A Breton's Adventures in neo-Gothic Wales, Studies in Travel Writing 18:2 (2014).
[with Paul Frame,eds] George Cadogan Morgan and Richard Price Morgan: Travels in Revolutionary France & A Journey Across America (Cardiff: UWP, 2012)
‘The Welsh in Revolutionary Paris’, in Mary-Ann Constantine and Dafydd Johnston (eds) “Footsteps of Liberty and Revolt”: Essays on Wales and the French Revolution (Cardiff: UWP, 2013) 69-91.
[with Elizabeth Edwards] ‘“Bard of Liberty”: Iolo Morganwg, Wales and Radical Song’, in United Islands? The Languages of Resistance, edited by John Kirk, Andrew Noble and Michael Brown (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2012) 63-76.
‘Literature of the Bardic Revival: an annotated bibliography’, Oxford Bibliographies Online. [http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/obo/page/british-and-irish-literature]
‘Beauty Spot, Blind Spot: Romantic Wales’, Literature Compass Online, 5, no.3 (April, 2008), 557-90. http://www.blackwell-compass.com/subject/literature/.
Welsh Literary History and the Making of “The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales”’, in Editing the Nation’s Memory: Textual Scholarship and Nation-Building in Nineteenth- Century Europe ,eds. Dirk Van Hulle and Joep Leerssen (Amsterdam, 2008), pp. 109–28.
The Truth Against the World: Iolo Morganwg and Romantic Forgery (Cardiff, 2007).
‘“Viewing Most Things Thro’ False Mediums”’: Iolo Morganwg (1747–1826) and English Perceptions of Wales’, in Romanticism’s Debatable Lands , eds. Claire Lamont and Michael Rossington (Basingstoke, 2007), pp. 27–38.
‘“A Subject of Conversation”: Iolo Morganwg, Hannah More and Ann Yearsley’, in Wales and the Romantic Imagination , eds. Damian Walford Davies and Lynda Pratt (Cardiff, 2007), pp. 65–85.
‘Chasing Fragments: Iolo, Ritson and Robin Hood’, in Bearers of Song: Essays in honour of Phyllis Kinney and Meredydd Evans / Cynheiliaid y Gân: Ysgrifau i anrhydeddu Phyllis Kinney a Meredydd Evans , eds. Sally Harper and Wyn Thomas (Cardiff, 2007), pp. 51–7.
‘“This wildernessed business of publication”: The making of Poems, Lyric and Pastoral (1794)’, in Rattleskull Genius: The Many Faces of Iolo Morganwg , ed. Geraint H. Jenkins (Cardiff, 2006), pp. 123–45.
‘Celtic Literatures’, in The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Volume 4 (1790–1900) , eds. Peter France and Kenneth Haynes (Oxford, 2006), pp. 294–307.
‘Songs and Stones: Iolo Morganwg (1747–1826), Mason and Bard’, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation , 47, numbers 2/3 (Summer/Fall 2006), 233–51.
‘Iolo Morganwg, Chatterton and Bristol’, in From Gothic to Romantic: Chatterton’s Bristol , ed. Alistair Heys (Bristol, 2005), pp. 104–15.
‘Iolo Morganwg, Coleridge, and the Bristol Lectures, 1795’, Notes & Queries (March, 2005), 42–4.
[with Jon Cannon] ‘A Welsh Bard in Wiltshire: Iolo Morganwg, Silbury and the Sarsens’, Wiltshire Studies , 97 (2004), 78–88.
‘Neither flesh nor fowl: Merlin as bird-man in Breton folk tradition’, Arthurian Literature , XXI (2004), ed. Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, 95–114.
[with Gerald Porter] Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song: from the Blues to the Baltic . British Academy Monographs Series (Oxford, 2003).
"Combustible Matter": Iolo Morganwg and the Bristol Volcano ( Aberystwyth, 2003).
‘Saints Behaving Badly: Sanctity and Transgression in Breton Popular Tradition’, in Celtic Hagiography and Saints’ Cults , ed. Jane Cartwright (Cardiff, 2003), pp. 198–215.
‘The Wreck of the Royal Charter: Welsh and English Ballads’, in Ballads in Wales / Baledi yng Nghymru , ed. Mary-Ann Constantine, FLS Books (London, 1999), pp. 65–85.
‘Ballads Crossing Borders: La Villemarqué and the Breton Lenore’, in Translation & Literature , volume 8, part 2 (1999), 197–216.
Breton Ballads (Aberystwyth, 1996) [Katharine Briggs Award, 1996].
‘Prophecy and Pastiche in the Breton ballads: Groac’h Ahès and Gwenc’hlan’, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies , 30 (Winter, 1995), 87–121.