Why Wales?

Welsh Landscape & Coleridge

In Wales Coleridge began for the first time to engage passionately with the wildness of nature. The tour confirmed his career as an artist. Famous lines from Rime of the Ancient Mariner were inspired by climbing on a hot day the mountain Penmaenmawr in North Wales.  Caves and landscape in his great poem Kubla Khan are linked to Devil’s Bridge near Aberystwyth.


Iolo Morganwg and Coleridge
Coleridge and Iolo Morganwg shared a vision. This 2016 travelling festival explores the power of Coleridge’s thought in Wales, its relation to the life work of Iolo Morganwg, and its relevance for British and international society.

1794 – Poet genius Samuel Coleridge abandons university and walks across Wales dreaming of founding a new, fairer society. He settles in Bristol.

1795 – Welsh literary wizard Iolo Morganwg stops in Bristol on a disillusioned return from London, discovers Coleridge lecturing, and scribbles on a poster: “Coleridge, Coleridge, Coleridge, Coleridge”

Iolo Morganwg is the founder of the modern Eisteddfod, and greatly influences 19th century Welsh culture. Coleridge becomes one of the greatest British poets – yet much of his writing has been buried and ignored.  Both stress the importance of understanding European concepts of the distinction between REASON and UNDERSTANDING.


03R. S. Thomas, Coleridge & the imagination
Major 20th century Welsh poet R. S. Thomas saw Coleridge’s work as centrally important. Lecturing at the 1976 Eisteddfod on the power of myth, words, place and nature in Welsh identity, he said…

In order to understand imagination’s true meaning one must be acquainted with the work of Coleridge,
but I haven’t time to go into that today”

Coleridge in Wales  2016 marks the 40th anniversary of R S. Thomas’s keynote address “Abercuawg” at the 1976 Eisteddfod.



David Jones and The Ancient Mariner
Leading British artist and modernist poet David Jones engaged deeply with Coleridge’s vision, illustrating The Rime of The Ancient Mariner and writing about the Brythonic depth of Coleridge’s vision.

Jones’s engravings of The Ancient Mariner reflect his understanding of

  •  Coleridge’s deep reach into the human imagination
  •  our capacities to wantonly destroy our environment
  •  and the potential of humanity to be a blessing to the world.

To coincide with the 2016 Festival the National Museum of Wales will display Jones’s engravings at the National Gallery in Cardiff.

“David Jones… identified so passionately with the idea of Wales, and of the importance of its language and culture to the shared experience of Britain over the last two thousand years.” – OLIVER FAIRCLOUGH, KEEPER OF ART, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WALES



Poets, Wales and tourism
The Coleridge in Wales Festival offers an unparalleled opportunity for heritage and international tourism.  Wordsworth’s walking tours of Wales are well documented and marked; also Shelley’s connection with the Elan Valley. We’ll be creating events, journeys and performance within a cultural legacy that can challenge, transform and celebrate modern Welsh life and its international resonance.

We’ll be highlighting Welsh connections to communities and culture all over the world, and exploring international poets with kindred voices alongside Iolo Morganwg and Coleridge.



A passion for Mary Evans
Coleridge was in love with Welsh girl, Mary Evans. Her family was from Wrexham and they met there, tantalizingly briefly, on his Welsh tour.  He wrote a love poem “The Sigh” to Mary, and her portrait hangs in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. The Festival will see the lovers re-united in Wrexham.



Iolo revisited
Iolo Morganwg 1747 -1826 (the bardic name of Edward Williams) is, though still a controversial figure, considered by many an ‘Architect of the Welsh Nation’ because of his contribution to theRomantic-era cultural renaissance. Through his visionary reinvention of Welsh medieval texts, and in his enduring ceremony The Gorsedd of the Bards, he championed Wales’s reputation as a civil nation, and was the first to suggest that Wales should have its own national institutions: a library, an academy, a museum and a folk museum.

A stone-mason by trade, he was a self-taught polymath and his writings show the remarkable diversity of his interests: druidism, poetry, folk songs, antiquities, architecture, agriculture, geology, language and dialect, pedigrees, radicalism and the abolition of slavery.

Iolo Morganwg collaborated with Coleridge’s youthful conspirator, poet Robert Southey, and explored, like Coleridge, the difference between our capacities for ‘reason’ and ‘understanding’.

The Centre for Advanced Welsh Studies in Aberystwyth undertook a seven-year study of Iolo Morganwg in 2001 and they provide excellent online resources on his life and work.