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DAVIES, Jonathan Ceredig.

Life, Travels and Reminiscences of Jonathan Ceredig Davies.

Author of "Folk lore of West and Mid. Wales," and many other works.

Llanddewi Brefi: Privately Printed, 1927 Stock Code: 93335
£2,250.00
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70 copies printed on a "toy press"

A Herculean labour of love: one of 70 copies only, printed for private circulation by the author in his old age at his own printing-press. This copy inscribed "yours sincerely, J. Ceredig Davies" on the frontispiece and forwarded to his cousin, the Hon. Dan W. Williams of Jackson, Ohio. Davies's memoirs comprise his journeys to Patagonia and Australia.

Davies (1859-1932) is a fascinating figure, born in Cardiganshire, largely self-taught, "a keen observer with a retentive memory. His works are a mine of information on the folk-customs of many countries he did much to further the spiritual and cultural movements among the English and Welsh colonists" that he met in Patagonia and Australia (Dictionary of Welsh Biography). His memoirs are an interesting and well-written account of a lifetime of travel, beginning with a voyage to Patagonia in 1875 as a boy of 16, attracted by the Welsh colony established in the Chubut Valley in 1865, and to Australia in 1898 and 1901. From the mid-1920s he "spent the remaining years of his life in Wales, devoting himself entirely to the study of Welsh history, folk-lore, and genealogy" (ibid.). Among his works, the most important is perhaps Folk-Lore of West and Mid-Wales (Aberystwyth, 1911).

The story of Davies's book is a remarkable one. "Judged by ordinary standards it cannot be compared with the work of the trained craftsman, but it would be difficult to find a finer example of dogged perseverance. Old age, failing health and sight, and fear of poverty, all made it seem impossible for him to achieve his purpose. His equipment consisted of a small quantity of type and a platen press. Setting up and printing off one page at a time, he grimly held on until the book was finished, a quarto work of 438 pages, 'written, set up, printed off and published by himself.' Apart from the mechanical aspect of its production the book bears the impress of a man who had travelled much, read widely, and was possessed of much courage and tenacity of purpose" (ibid.). Begun during the Great War, Williams's memoir took him the better part of a decade to print, as "his press was only a toy" (according to the letter to the book's recipient from Mrs. D. D. Evans, a mutual cousin). The printing is accordingly unsophisticated but charming - Davies ran out of sheets and so 9 pages are supplied in ink manuscript, with occasional corrections and passages added in manuscript.

The recipient, Dan W. Williams, is mentioned (though misnamed, as the author comments in the margin) on page 5 as part of the global diaspora of Davies's Welsh family. Laid-in are three autograph letters: one from the author to the recipient; another from a mutual relation of the author and cousin; and another from a further relation of the cousin. Williams has summarised the letters in manuscript to the front pastedown. The author writes that he sent Dan W. Williams "the only copy I could spare The only other copy of my book is to be found in the Congress Library." A highly personal and most appealing copy of this rare memoir.

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Description

Octavo. Original red cloth, gilt-lettered spine, edges sprinkled red. With 9 pages of text in manuscript, and other manuscript notes and corrections to plates and text. Parcel post wrapper tipped-in to front free endpaper, press reviews of the book mounted to the rear blank and rear free endpaper, and customs form and 3 autograph letters loosely inserted.

Illustrations

Portrait frontispiece, 16 plates and illustrations in text.

Condition

Covers a little soiled, spine and front cover faded, lower tips bumped, lower fore edge dented. A good copy.

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