Roberts, Kate (1891–1985)

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Roberts, Kate (1891–1985)

Welsh nationalist, writer, publisher and journalist. Born in North Wales in 1891; died in 1985; attended the University College of North Wales, Bangor; married Morris T. Williams, in 1928.

Kate Roberts was born in 1891 and brought up near Caernarfon, in the slate-quarrying area of North Wales, where her father was a quarryman and her mother looked after their small holding. She studied at the University College of North Wales, Bangor, and began her career as a teacher of Welsh in South Wales during the Depression. She married Morris T. Williams in 1928, and together they bought the publishing firm of Gwasg Gee in Denbigh and its Welshlanguage paper, Y Faner (The Banner). Many of her articles were written for this publication.

Roberts felt that her creative writing was inspired by tragedy and loss: the sufferings caused by World War I, by quarrying accidents, and by the austerity of working-class life as endured by women in domestic settings. Her wish to transmute her observations into action caused her to join the Welsh Nationalist Party (Plaid Cymru), whose aim is self-government for Wales, and to write for its newspaper Y Ddraig Goch (The Red Dragon). There was a break of 12 years in Roberts' writing, which she resumed after the death of her husband in 1946 and then continued until she was in her 90s. Her short stories are reminiscent of those of Chekhov and Maupassant, her books for children sharply observed and without sentimentality. Roberts was honored by the University of Wales, the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, and the Welsh Arts Council. On her death she left half of her estate to Plaid Cymru.


Berresford-Ellis, Peter. Celtic Women. London: Constable, 1995.

Evans, Gwynfor. Welsh Nation Builders. Llandyssul: Gomer, 1988.

Elizabeth Rokkan , translator, formerly Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Bergen, Norway