Posted on 27 October 2010
Prize founder and judge of the University of Wales Dylan Thomas prize
A groundbreaking survey has revealed that a staggering 84 per cent of children surveyed in South Wales cannot name any piece of work by internationally renowned Welsh writer Dylan Thomas.
The survey, which was conducted by the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, asked 200 children aged between 11 and 14 a series of questions regarding the award’s namesake, as well as their general opinions on Welsh literature and culture.
Prize organisers were surprised to see that, although 62 per cent of those surveyed could name a play by Shakespeare, only 16 per cent were familiar with Thomas’s works, all naming the writer’s 1954 play Under Milk Wood.
Prize founder and judge, Professor Peter Stead, commented:
“In Dylan Thomas we have one of the world’s most respected and talented writers, so it’s a real shame that for the most part, children in Wales are not aware of what he accomplished.
“In the opinion of the Dylan Thomas Prize, Dylan Thomas and his works should be part of the school curriculum in Wales. It would be a terrible shame to see arguably Wales’s greatest literary talent of all time forgotten by the next generation - we need to safeguard the heritage of one of this country’s best literary minds for years to come.”
The survey also asked children whether they would like to take part in more creative writing at school, to which 69 per cent of those questioned responded positively. Over half of those questioned said they would also like to learn more about Welsh writers.
The survey comes as the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize prepares to kick start its month-long educational campaign, which is supported by the University and by the Laura Ashley Foundation. The programme will see literary figures, including the Prize’s shortlisted writers, visiting secondary schools and universities across South Wales during November to deliver talks and workshops to students.
Professor Marc Clement, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, emphasised the University’s particular pleasure in working with the Prize on the education programme planned to stimulate appreciation of literature and encourage the development of creative writing skills.
“Contact with successful young writers and exposure to their work can do much to help fulfil these aims”, he said, “and, to that end, this year’s short-listed authors will again be visiting universities and colleges across Wales, where they will work with creative writing students and their lecturers. The reading and discussion of work by Dylan Thomas can only add to the effectiveness – and to the pleasure – of these very popular sessions.”
Peter Stead said:
“The educational campaign has always been a key part of the Prize, we’re so much more than just a monetary award - we genuinely want to make a difference to the future of all aspiring young writers. As the survey results indicate, there is an appetite amongst young people to learn more about creative writing, and where better place to start nurturing the future of literature than in our own backyard. It would be great to conduct another survey in ten years time and see that 100 per cent of children in Wales were familiar with Dylan Thomas, and inspired by his work.”
Focusing on Welsh culture in general, the survey also asked who the most influential Welsh person was at the moment, with four of the top five answers coming from celebrities involved in the arts – singer Tom Jones took the top spot, followed by rugby and reality TV star Gavin Henson, actress Catherine Zeta Jones and singers Katherine Jenkins and Charlotte Church.
Peter Stead commented:
“It would be great to see a young literary star, born and bred in Wales, emerge to become an icon to young people – perhaps they could give Tom Jones a run for his money.”
Full Survey Results
1. Have you heard of Dylan Thomas?
Yes - 76%
No – 24%
2. Can you name one of his works?
16% - all named Under Milk Wood
3. Have you heard of William Shakespeare?
Yes - 95%
No – 5%
4. Can you name one of his works?
62% - of these 70% named Romeo and Juliet
5. Can you name any Welsh writers?
20% could name a Welsh writer
6. Would you be interested in learning more about Welsh writers in school?
Yes – 52%
No - 48%
7. Would you like to do more creative writing in school?
Yes - 69%
No – 31%
8. Who do you think is the most influential Welsh person at the moment?
Of the children that answered, several names were put forward, such as Ruth Jones, Adam Jones, David Greene, Ryan Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Kelly Jones, however, the top ten most popular answers were:
1. Tom Jones
2. Gavin Henson
3= Catherine Zeta Jones
3= Katherine Jenkins
5. Charlotte Church
7. Ryan Giggs
8. Shane Williams
9. John Toshack
10. Sian Lloyd
Notes to Editors:
For further information please contact Lauren Allchurch or Natasha Fulford at MGB PR on 01792 460200 or email Lauren@mgbpr.com
The University of Wales
The University of Wales is a major national institution in Wales. It is committed to helping to fulfil the educational and economic needs of Wales and to supporting its linguistic, cultural, and national heritage. Looking beyond its distinctive Welsh responsibilities, the University is also committed to its international role and to enhancing its standing across the UK and overseas. To date, the University has awarded over 600,000 degrees to students worldwide and is the second largest degree-awarding body in the United Kingdom. To find out more please visit: www.wales.ac.uk
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