Swansea University Scholar to Edit the Works of Major Welsh Poet

Senior lecturer in Welsh at Academi Hywel Teifi, Swansea University, Dr Cynfael Lake has been awarded a prestigious British Academy Fellowship worth 89k to study the poems of Hywel Dafi.

Hywel Dafi is the only major 15th century Welsh poet whose work remains to be edited, and Dr Cynfael Lake will be allowed to take a year off from his work at the University to edit the work.


More than 100 poems by Hywel Dafi have been safeguarded in manuscripts, many of which are kept at the National Library at Aberystwyth, and all copies will have to be studied and compared in detail. The poems are mostly paying tribute to gentry families in Breconshire with whom the poet shared a common descent.

Although not a native of Swansea Dr Lake spent his teens in the city and attended Penlan Comprehensive School. He graduated at Swansea University and returned in 1996 after periods working for the National Eisteddfod of Wales and Aberystwyth University.

Dr Cynfael Lake has just completed a study of the work of Huw Jones from Llangwm, one of the principal Welsh balladists of the 18th century. He published a study of his work in Llên y Llenor and led a project collecting all the existing ballads by the poet.

A selection of 50 ballads appeared in print in 2010 (Detholiad o faledi Huw Jones ‘Llymgi Penllwyd Llangwm’). The finishing touches are now being applied to a website which will feature all the surviving ballads - 190 in all. 

Director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, Professor Chris Williams said: “Cynfael Lake is to be congratulated on winning this highly competitive fellowship. It is a tribute to his skills as an editor and his reputation as a scholar that he has been selected to introduce the poetry of Hywel Dafi to a modern readership.”