Born 20 July 1874, son of Thomas and Dinah Bowen of Treorchy, Glamorganshire, elder brother of Ben Bowen and Thomas (Orchwy) Bowen (father of the archdruid Geraint Bowen and the poet Euros Bowen), and of the mother of Sir Ben Bowen Thomas. Both parents had moved from Carmarthenshire to the coal industry in the Rhondda. The family's Welsh culture was safeguarded and fostered by the chapel life in Moriah (B), Pentre. David attended the Treorchy board school, and went to work in the Ty'n-y-bedw pit at the age of 12. His abilities were nurtured by the chapel, the small eisteddfodau and the remarkable success of his brother Ben. Compiling the latter's biography and collecting his poetry in 1903 helped his own gifts to mature. He began to preach during the 1904-05 Revival. He went to the preparatory school at Pontypridd and to the University College at Cardiff for the year 1908-09. He won the chair at the students' eisteddfod in January 1909. He was called to the pastorate of Bethel, Lower Chapel, near Brecon and laboured there to restore Welsh as he had seen William Morris do at Noddfa, Treorchy. For this period of his life see his booklets Oriau Hefin (1902), Emynau pen y mynydd (1905), and Cerddi Brycheiniog (1912).
In 1913 he moved to Horeb chapel, Five Roads, near Llanelli. He was Welsh editor of the Llanelly Mercury between 1915 and 1942, and of Seren yr Ysgol Sul from the same press, 1916-50. He established Urdd y Seren Fore in 1929, and the provision of reading material for children in Welsh was one of his chief aims. He was a member of the Gorsedd of Bards from 1897 until his death, and was president of the Llanelli Cymrodorion and the Awen a Chân literary circle. He was prominent in all Welsh cultural movements. He published five books on his brother, Ben, eight booklets of his own, and many contributions to the Llanelly Mercury and Seren yr Ysgol Sul.
He was twice married. (1) to Hannah Jones of Treorchy, in 1901. She died young leaving one daughter, Myfanwy. In 1909 he married (2) Elizabeth Bowen, Halfway, Llanelli, who died in 1937 leaving two daughters, Rhiannon and Enid. He died 22 April 1955, and was buried in the new Horeb cemetery.
Published date: 2001
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