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Under the Welsh Not - Myrddin ap Dafydd

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Under the Welsh Not - the cane is what you'll get for saying one word in Welsh ..."
Myrddin ap Dafydd
Paperback / softback
Gwasg Carreg Gwalch
UK Publication Date

you'll get a beating for speaking Welsh... A novel about the 'Welsh Not' or 'Welsh Stick' period in schools in Wales. Bob starts school at Ysgol y Llan at the end of the summer, but he's worried. He doesn't have a word of English. The 'Welsh Not' stigma for speaking Welsh is still used at that school.

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Will he have to wear it? Will he be caned for speaking Welsh? He's also been a sickly child and is starting school four years late: he'll be an eight-year-old in the Infants' class. He doesn't know yet if he can cope with all this.

But his older brothers and big sister will look out for him, and his grandmother, Nain Bicycle, always makes him feel better. When an unexpected accident rocks the family, what part does Mac, the gamekeeper at the big house, play in the story?
Publisher: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch

The ethos and management of schools has changed so radically in the last hundred years that it is difficult forcontemporary children to have any conception of what it felt like to be a pupil in late Victorian and Edwardian times.

This novel by Myrddin ap Dafydd aims to imagine the experience of a young boy starting school in Llangernyw at a period when speaking Welsh was not only frowned upon, but punished with what verged on savagery. Bob and his brother Owie are pupils at their local church school which is run by an unimaginative bully, Mr Barnwell, who is set upon turning what he regards as uncivilised local children into English monoglots. On his first day in school, Bob is so traumatised by seeing his brother being caned that he becomes mute and unable to utter any sound in school. The novel tells the story of how he finds his voice, as a talented story teller in his own language, but in English too, inspired by the writing of Owen Edwards to see the value of having more than one language. An important person in his life is his nain, who is a fan of Cymru'r Plant, and encourages Bob to read and enjoy the stories and history of his own language.
Another important influence is Mac, the Scottish gamekeeper at the local Plas, a native of Skye, who as a victim
of the Highland clearances, quietly sympathises with the natives of Llangernyw and becomes a learner of Welsh with Bob's help.

There is no doubting the passion of the author to communicate to modern children how hard their forebears have had to fight for their language and identity and how powerful were the forces ranged against them. There are times, however, when the desire to tell history dominates and the dialogue becomes stilted and forced. Nevertheless, this book has a powerful story to tell and will find a welcome place in many Welsh classrooms.
Wendy Crockett @

Keyword Index
Education - Wales - History - 20th century - Juvenile fiction.|Discrimination in education - Wales - History - 20th century - Juvenile fiction.|Welsh language - Juvenile fiction.|Wales - Juvenile fiction.|Children's stories.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
195 illustrations (black and white), maps (black

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