With Professor Geraint H Jenkins


This presentation offers a rather different portrait of Iolo Morganwg, the legendary Glamorgan stonemason who is usually depicted as a literary forger. Here he is shown to be a political animal, a natural contrarian who, inspired by Tom Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’ (1791-2), became known as the ‘Bard of Liberty’. Iolo gloried in the American and French Revolutions, campaigned passionately against tyrants, war and the slave trade, took up the political cause of the ‘swinish multitude’, promoted the Unitarian faith and founded the Gorsedd of the Bards as a means of popularising radicalism. As one  of his devout disciples once cried: ‘Perish kings and emperors, but let the Bard of Liberty live.’


Professor Geraint H Jenkins, a native of Penparcau, is one of our leading Welsh historians. He taught Welsh history at Aberystwyth University for twenty-five years before becoming, in 1993, Director of the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, which is located alongside the National Library of Wales, where Iolo Morganwg’s wonderful archive is kept. A prolific author, he has written more than fifty books in Welsh and English. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. When he’s not writing, he grows vegetables in his garden, enjoys classical music and plays football with his grandchildren.