About The Dictionary of Welsh Biography
What is the Dictionary of Welsh Biography?
- The Dictionary of Welsh Biography (DWB) is the starting point for anyone seeking biographical information about persons throughout history whose contribution or prominence has shaped some aspect of the life of Wales, including the impact of Welsh people in the wider world.
- It provides free access to around 5,000 concise biographical articles in Welsh and English, each fully researched and written by a named specialist author.
- The subjects represent a very wide range of activities, including religion, literature and the arts, government and politics, education and scholarship, law, science and technology, industry, economics and trade, agriculture and land ownership, the military, sport, exploration, philanthropy, and more.
- The DWB is a comprehensive, authoritative and accessible standard academic reference work intended for users of all backgrounds.
- The database is updated regularly, with priority given to those articles most in need of inclusion or revision. Coverage is gradually being extended in order to:
- include persons who have died recently;
- fill gaps that still remain, especially for the decades since 1970;
- improve the balance of the DWB in areas that have historically received less attention than others (e.g. science, sport, and especially women);
- revise older articles in the light of modern scholarship and academic standards.
- The DWB now stands alongside the other major digital resources of Wales, such as the People's Collection, Hwb and the digital collections of the National Library of Wales.
Who is in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography?
- People are usually included because of outstanding or pioneering contributions in some field, particularly if their achievements are lasting and at a national or international level.
- Persons who were born in Wales may be included, wherever they made their contribution. This may include people who left Wales at an early age to pursue careers elsewhere, but accident of birth does not necessarily warrant inclusion.
- Persons who were born outside Wales may be included if they made a significant contribution to Welsh life, or within their fields while they lived in Wales. This may include persons who settled in Wales and did important work here, or who spent significant periods here, or even persons who contributed to Welsh culture without ever living in Wales.
- Welsh ancestry is not in itself a sufficient criterion for inclusion, unless the person's Welsh identity is clearly important in their career.
- Some room is allowed for those whose importance was primarily local, particularly for those who had less opportunity to achieve wider prominence, and some who are not significant enough to justify individual entries may still be included in thematic articles on groups or movements.
- A person's contribution need not necessarily have been conventional or even positive.
- Articles are not published until at least three years after the person has died.
We urgently need new authors to write articles about individuals who deserve a place in
The Dictionary of Welsh Biography to ensure the timely and continuous publication of new biographies.
A list of articles that need to be created for the Dictionary of Welsh Biography can be viewed here.
If you are interested in writing an article on anyone in this list, please contact us.
What information is included for each person?
Each article seeks to explain who the person was, their importance, and their relation to Wales. Articles are fully researched, and factually substantiated as far as possible. They are not panegyrics, but honest and balanced assessments of the subject's contribution, recognising weaknesses and failures as well as achievements. If known, the information contained in each article should include details of:
- the subject's full name and any pseudonyms, including the most common form of the name, as well as any bardic name, professional name, abbreviations and nicknames;
- dates of birth, death and burial/cremation;
- places associated with the person (e.g. birth, baptism, residence, education, employment, marriage, death, burial/cremation, scattering of ashes, etc.);
- the person's character (personality, physical appearance);
- family members (father, mother, siblings, spouse/partner, children);
- the person's career (education, occupation, appointments, honours, and so on);
- the person's achievements and legacy - a balanced judgement on the importance of the subject's contribution, outlining the reason why he or she deserves to be remembered;
- cause of death;
- sources used for the article, including personal knowledge, oral sources, obituaries, biographies and authoritative treatments, references to visual representations of the subject, film and sound material, and collections of archives and papers.
Links within articles provide cross-references to relevant articles about family members or colleagues.
Guidelines for authors can be viewed here.
We welcome suggestions from our users. If you would like to suggest a new article or an edit to an existing article, please contact us with as much detail as possible. The editorial team will then review your suggestions and get back in touch.
What is the history of the Dictionary of Welsh Biography?
- The DWB was originally published by the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion in two English-language volumes and three Welsh-language volumes covering the whole history of Wales up to 1970:
- Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig Hyd 1940, gol. John Edward Lloyd ac R. T. Jenkins (Llundain, 1953)
- The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940, ed. John Edward Lloyd and R. T. Jenkins (London, 1959)
- Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig 1941-1950, gol. R. T. Jenkins ac E. D. Jones (Llundain, 1970)
- Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig 1951-1970, gol. E. D. Jones a Brynley F. Roberts (Llundain, 1997)
- The Dictionary of Welsh Biography 1941-1970, ed. R. T. Jenkins, E. D. Jones and Brynley F. Roberts (London, 2001)
- The contributors, abbreviations &c of the original volumes are available here.
- The decision to produce a biographical dictionary for Wales was made by the Cymmrodorion in 1938, and Sir J. E. Lloyd was appointed as Editor with R. T. Jenkins as his assistant. War interrupted the work until 1943, when Lloyd elected to act as Consultant Editor with Jenkins as Editor. When Lloyd died in 1947, the National Librarian of Wales, Sir William Llewelyn Davies, was appointed as Co-Editor, beginning the close association between the DWB and NLW that continues today. Two more Librarians became Editors in turn, namely Dr E. D. Jones (1965-1987) and Dr Brynley F. Roberts (1987-2013). The current Editor is Dafydd Johnston, who is Emeritus Professor at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, with Dr Marion Löffler of Cardiff University as Assistant Editor. An Advisory Board meets annually to advise the Editor and the Operational Group on matters relating to the development of the DWB.
- In 2007, a searchable electronic version of the DWB was launched by the National Library of Wales, comprising all the articles from the printed volumes as well as articles on a number of individuals who had died since 1970.
- The DWB is now published online only, and since 2014 it has been jointly maintained and developed by NLW and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, with the support of the Cymmrodorion. During 2018, the website was upgraded and now includes a new design, along with new functions and content. The new website was developed with funding assistance from the Colwinston Charitable Trust and the National Library.
- In accordance with NLW policy for all of its online resources, the DWB is available to the public free of charge.
- The aim is to eventually make the DWB fully multi-media, with images, sound and video, and to make it a resource suitable for social media channels.
Should you wish to contribute financially towards maintaining and developing this website, please contact us.