Davies, E(dward) Tegla 1880-1967
DAVIES, E(dward) Tegla 1880-1967
PERSONAL: Born May 31, 1880 in Llandegla, Wales; died 1967, in Bangor, Wales; son of William and Mary Ann Davies; married Jane Eleanor Evans, August 19, 1908; children: Dyddgu (daughter), Arfor (son), Gwenfyl (daughter). Education: Attended Didsbury College, Manchester.
CAREER: Writer, teacher, and Wesleyan minister.
AWARDS, HONORS: University of Wales, M.A., 1924, D.Litt, 1958.
Hunangofiant Tomi (title means "Tommy's Memoirs"), Evan Thomas (Bangor, Wales), 1912.
(Editor, with Tecwyn Evans) Llestri'r Trysor (title means "Treasure Vessels"), Evan Thomas (Bangor, Wales), 1914.
Tir Y Dyneddon (title means "Land of Little Men"), Hughes a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1921.
Nedw, Hugess a'i Fab (Cardiff, Wales), 1922.
Y Greal Sanctaidd, Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1922.
Gw^r Pen Y Bryn, Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1922, translation by Nina Watkins published as The Master of Pen Y Bryn, Christopher Davies (Llandybie, Wales), 1975.
Branwen Ferch Llyr, Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1923.
Rhys Llwyd Y Lleuad (title means "Grey Rhys of the Moon"), Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1925.
Iesu o Nasareth (title means "Jesus of Nazareth"), Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1927.
Hen Ffrindiau (title means "Old Friends"), Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1927.
Y Doctor Bach (title means "The Little Doctor"), Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1930.
Y Llwybr Arian A Storiau Eraill, Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1934.
Stori Sam, Huges a'i Fab (Wrexham, Wales), 1938.
Y Flodeugerdd Feiblaidd, Y Clwb Llyfrau Cymreig (Aberystwyth, Wales), 1939.
Gyda'r Glannau, Llyfrau'r Dryw (Llandybie, Wales), 1941.
Dechrau'r Daith (title means "Beginning the Journey"), Llyfrau'r Dryw (Llandybie, Wales), 1943.
Y Sanhedrin, Y Clwb Ilyfrau Cymreig (Aerystwyth, Wales), 1945.
Gorchfygu'r Byd (title means "Conquering the World,"), Llyfrau'r Dryw (Llandybie, Wales), 1944.
Rhyfedd o Fyd (title means "It's a Strange World"), Gwasg y Brython (Liverpool, England), 1950.
Y Foel Faen, Gwasg y Brython (Liverpool, England), 1951.
Gyda'r Blynyddoedd (title means "With the Years"), Gwasg y Brython (Liverpool, England), 1952.
Ar Ddisberod, Gwasg y Brython (Liverpool, England), 1954.
Gyda'r Hwyr (title means "At Eventide"), Gwasg y Brython (Liverpool, England), 1957.
Y Ffordd (title means "The Way"), Gwasg y Brython (Liverpool, England), 1959.
Yr Hen Gwpan Cymun (title means "The Old Communion Cup"), Gwasg y Brython (Liverpool, England), 1961.
Religion in the Industrial Revolution in South Wales, University of Wales Press (Aberystwyth, Wales), 1965.
Y Dyhead (title means "The Yearning"), Llyfrau'r Dryw (Llandybie, Wales), 1966.
Religion and Society in the Nineteenth Century, P. D. Meany Publishers (Port Credit, Ontario, Canada), 1981.
Contributor to periodicals, including Y Llenor and Y Genhinen.
SIDELIGHTS: Edward Tegla Davies was a Welsh writer and Wesleyan minister who wrote books of satire and humor, children's books with moral lessons, and stories of elegant fantasy. Active throughout his life as a preacher and minister, Davies "consciously subordinated his literary art to his supreme concern as minister of the Gospel—the bald description of him on the stone at his grave in Tre-garth," wrote biographer Pennar Davies in E. Tegla Davies.
Davies was born May 31, 1880, in Llandegla, Wales, an economically declining area in the Welsh countryside. His family was among the poorest in the region. His father, William, could write only a small amount, and his mother, Mary Ann, could not write at all. However, they could both read, and Davies was exposed to books from an early age. The family was "humbly devout and faithful to the Wesleyan cause," Pennar Davies wrote, and lived in a rural area "in which the only riches were the Welsh speech and the evangelical faith" of its residents.
Davies "was a sickly child in his early years and his head would often be tightly bound with a cloth to ease oppressive headaches," Pennar Davies wrote. He endured early schooling that sought to suppress the students' Welsh language and heritage in favor of English language and education. He also developed an ethical and "moral sensitivity" which remained intact throughout his life, but which frequently troubled him with the inflation of minor transgressions to the status of dire sins.
At seventeen years of age, Davies was introduced to a new teacher at his school in Bwlch-gwyn. Tom Arfor Davies brought a new approach to the school, speaking Welsh and encouraging his students. He introduced Tegla Davies to important literary works of O. M. Edwards, directed him to Welsh bookstores, and encouraged his early writing efforts. He had a story published in Edwards's magazine, Cymru, and worked on poetry. About three weeks after Tom Arfor Davies's arrival, Tegla Davies experienced a conversion in which he felt pursued by hounds and found peace in the church. After being welcomed as a church member, he became a preacher, a vocation that would define the remainder of his life.
After two years of lay preaching and a year of practical experience in ministerial work, Tegla Davies entered Didsbury College, Manchester, and finished his requirements for joining the Wesleyan Methodist ministry. He invited sharp criticism in 1907 when he condemned the sexual promiscuity and prostitution rampant in Porthaethwy, where he served as a minister—even though the behavior "was one of the byproducts of the merriment of the town's famous annual fair," Pennar Davies observed. The events would resurface in one of his later novels.
In 1908, Davies wrote a novel that took top honors at a competition, and although he later dismissed it as "supercilious and sentimental," Pennar Davies wrote, it helped to revive his literary interests. He wrote pseudonymous letters satirizing denominational mandarins, and contributed articles on religious affairs. Also in 1908, Davies married Jane Eleanor Evans, the daughter of a shopkeeper and lay preacher. Their first child, Dyddgu, a daughter, was born shortly before they moved to Y Felinheli (Port Dinorwig). While at Y Felinheli, Davies was invited to contribute to the Y Winllan ("The Vineyard"), the Welsh Wesleyan magazine for children. He also started work on the serial which became his novel Hunangofiant Tomi, described by Pennar Davis as "the first of his little classics."
In 1911 Davies and his family moved to Tre-garth. where he coedited a collection of studies of the Bible, Llestri'r Trysor, written by young authors. He also took up the temporary editorship of a prominent Welsh Wesleyan periodical, Yr Eurgrawn ("The Golden Treasury"). His son Arfor was born before he left Tregarth for his next ministerial assignment in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, where his daughter Gwynfyl was born. There, he wrote his novel Gwr Pen y Bryn, contributed in serial form to Yr Eugrawn. He also wrote "a more assured masterpiece, his Tir y Dyneddon," which was "little appreciated at the time by the magazine's readers but destined to be acclaimed by reputable critics on its appearance in book form in 1921," Pennar Davies wrote.
Davies returned to Tre-garth in 1919 and a year later became editor of Y Winllan. He contributed a serial to the magazine, which was published in 1922 as Nedw ("Neddy," a children's novel featuring the adventures of a mischief-making young boy. In 1921 Tyr y Dynnedon was published to considerable critical acclaim. "It has from the time of its publication in book form been greatly praised and some have seen in it not only a masterpiece of fancy but a mysterious allegory by which elevating truths are conveyed," Pennar Davies observed. Subtitled Stories about Fairies, the book follows a young boy who falls into a cleft in a rock in his garden and finds a fanciful and amazing new world. A race of little men, shaped like letters of the alphabet, think the boy is a huge mountain and worship him as their God. The complete existence of the little men is derived from him, and they pray to him to help and guide them. The boy helps the little men choose a king, endure cyclical changes in their land, and come to realizations about the nature of music. Then, he awakens in his own home, being tended to by his mother after his "accident" on the rock.
Davies took up ministerial duties in Denbigh in 1922, where he stayed until 1925. In Denbigh Davies endured poor health, became dismayed at political developments in Wales, and found "snobbery and worldliness" in one of the churches he served, Pennar Davies wrote. There, he also experienced a defining moment in his ministerial life. Suddenly concerned one evening that he would go blind, he prayed feverishly, and heard a distinct voice speaking words "that had given comfort to Paul," Pennar Davies wrote: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." After this experience, "Tegla came to date his recovery from that moment and to testify that his preaching then lost its former cleverness and became confidently affirmative."
Davies was assigned to Manchester in 1925. There he wrote "another literary tour de force for children, Rhys Llwyd y Lleuad," wrote Pennar Davies, who described the book as "not quite a specimen of science fiction but a combination of fantasy and facts about the moon." In 1927, Iesu o Nasareth and HenFfrindiau appeared. Davies spent 1928 to 1931 in Liverpool where he wrote Y Doctor Bach about the country life and adventures of young Robert—the doctor of the title—and his friends. He served at Bangor from 1932 to 1936, where he translated Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress into Welsh and took over the editorship of Yr Efrydydd (The Student). A collection of his short stories, Y Llwybr Arian a Storiau Eraill, appeared in 1934.
After further service in Manchester and a stint at Coedpoeth, where he wrote Dechrau'r Daith, a guide for young persons considering church membership, he returned to Tre-garth in 1944 and remained there until retiring in 1946. A collection of his articles and essays, Rhyffedd o Fyd appeared in 1950, and two collections of his sermons, Y Ffordd and Y Dhyead appeared in 1959 and 1966, respectively. His autobiographical Gyda'r Blynyddoedd was published in 1952 and "was welcomed as a classic," Pennar Davies wrote. Another book of memories and reflections, Gyda'a Hwyr was published in 1957. Following serious episodes of declining health, Davies died on October 8, 1967.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Davies, Pennar, E. Tegla Davies, University of Wales Press for Welsh Arts Council (Cardiff, Wales), 1983.
History Today, fall, 1987, Geraint H. Jenkins, review of Religion in the Industrial Revolution in South Wales, p. 52.
Choice, December, 1982, review of Religion and Society in the Nineteenth Century, pp. 632-633.*