Unlikely classics revived

27th May 2005 at 01:00
Think of a classic novel in the English language and you are unlikely to come up with So Long, Hector Bebb, by Rhondda writer Ron Berry. But the sad tale of a lorry driver training for a big fight in the boxing ring is about to be reprinted, courtesy of Assembly funding, alongside four other books by Welsh authors.

The long-forgotten titles are being given a new shelf-life by Welsh publisher Parthian and will be in school libraries early next year. The five are the first of around 50 English-language classics from Wales that the national library plans to print as part of an innovative scheme being launched at the Hay festival on Sunday.

Kirsti Bohata, from the Welsh Books Council, said: "Too many of the best works by Welsh writers have been out of print for too long. This project is intended not only to encourage greater educational take-up of these books but to make an impact on the public imagination in this country and abroad."

The idea for the series arose from an Assembly review of Welsh writing in English, and is being funded by the government.

Professor Dai Smith is to edit the series. The historian and broadcaster will host a debate on Welsh literature with author Niall Griffiths at the Hay festival on Sunday.

The first five books in the Library of Wales series are: Country Dance by Margiad Evans; So Long, Hector Bebb by Ron Berry; Border Country by Raymond Williams; Cwmardy by Lewis Jones; and Oscar by Gwyn Thomas

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