Born 4 March 1901 at Pentremynydd, Bethel (Trefenter), Mynydd Bach, Cardiganshire, son of Elizabeth and David Rees, a blacksmith, from a family of smiths, the family moved later to Morfa Du. As a child he attended Cofadail primary school and proceeded to Ardwyn grammar school (Aberystwyth county school) in 1914. He was there only for some eighteen months as his health broke down and he was at home ill for about three years. Having recovered he went to work at the Welsh Gazette office at Aberystwyth and in 1919 he moved to Caernarfon to the Herald Cymraeg office. He returned to Aberystwyth in 1921 and when Y Faner moved from Denbigh to Aberystwyth in 1923, he was appointed editor, a position which he held till his death on 6 February 1945.
He began to dabble in poetry at an early age and he contributed verses to Cymru'r Plant when he was quite young. In 1924, at the national eisteddfod held at Pontypool, he won the crown for his poem ‘Atgof’, a poem which was unusual in its form and its content and which caused a stir at the time. He took the surname Rhys when he married Mary Prudence Hughes, of Aberystwyth in 1928; they had one daughter. In 1928 he began to publish books and founded Gwasg Aberystwyth, a press which grew year by year and which was acquired after his death by J.D. Lewis & Sons, Llandysul. The Welsh Books Club which he also established flourished under his management.
In 1923 he published with J.T. Jones a joint volume of verse, Gwaed Ifanc (Hughes & Son). No further poems of his were published except in periodicals or on the radio until the appearance of Cerddi Prosser Rhys from Gwasg Gee in 1950. Though he was a good poet his name is more likely to live as editor and publisher. He was a member of Plaid Cymru from its inception and his nationalist spirit was soon manifested on the pages of Y Faner, though he was not given a free and unfettered run until Y Faner was moved back to its old home in Denbigh in January 1939. Through his weekly column ‘Led-led Cymru’ in Y Faner he became friendly with many whom he would never have known in any other way. He was at heart a countryman, and was at his best writing about country characters and writers. As a publisher he attracted some of the leading Welsh writers to use his press for publishing their works. He also published school books.
Published date: 2001
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