Wales and the French Revolution

The French Revolution of 1789 was perhaps the defining event of the Romantic period in Europe. It unsettled not only the ordering of society but language and thought itself.

The last twenty years have radically altered our understanding of the impact of the Revolution and its aftermath on British culture. Yet suprising gaps remain. Even recent studies of the 'British' reaction to the Revolution are poorly informed about responses from the regions. Literary and historical discussions of the so-called 'four nations' of Britain often still overlook Wales.

How did the events in Europe and the British reaction to them come to be known and felt in places like Carmarthen, Bangor or Milford Haven? In what ways did Welsh responses differ from those in Scotland, Ireland or London? Our new project aims to explore these questions through a series of edited texts (including, where necessary, translations). Each volume will be introduced by an up-to-date critical essay situating the material in its historical and literary context. A volume of collected essays by experts from inside and outside Wales will further explore the response across a wide spectrum of subjects. Our work will also be presented through a dedicated website.

From ballads and pamphlets to prize-winning poems, essays, journals, sermons, songs and satires, the range of texts covered by our project will make it a stimulating reflection of the complexity of the period. The Wales we expect to emerge from this study will be neither purely radical nor purely loyalist; neither exclusively Welsh nor yet wholly British. But in the subtle interweaving of local and national loyalties we fully expect to find a culture that is unique, irreducible to cliché, and no longer possible to ignore.