Edward Williams, better known as Iolo Morganwg (1747–1826), was a prime force behind the cultural revival that saw the birth of modern Wales. Over the last five years a team of full-time researchers has been working through his rich and chaotic archive, held at the National Library of Wales.
From hundreds of letters and dozens of volumes of manuscripts on a dizzying variety of topics Iolo emerges as a profoundly complicated character: a struggling provincial poet in London, a manipulator and victim of the world of literary patronage, a radical, a medievalist, a forger of pasts, an opium eater and a forceful and opinionated critic.
The Iolo Morganwg Project has resulted in a series of fascinating publications, from in-depth monographs to edited texts, pamphlets, articles and a website. This work, a major contribution to historical and literary studies of British Romanticism, shows how Iolo’s vision of the past altered perceptions of Wales and Welshness in ways that continue to echo well into our own century. His legacy is still to be reckoned with. We are aware that many researchers are still running into webs he set up over two hundred years ago. All comments and enquiries from those tangled in (or who have themselves untangled) any aspect of Iolo’s work are most welcome.