Are You Ready for Wales Readathon 2021?


Dewithon is an opportunity for book bloggers around the world to discover Welsh writers and their works (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, in fact anything written in English or Welsh with links to the nation of Wales).

We will begin our 31 days of celebration on Monday 1st March 2021 (St. David’s Day), with an official page appearing thereafter to display all your Dewithon-related posts. There are plenty of useful links and reading suggestions at DHQ (Dewithon Headquarters) and in our Wales Readathon Library, but please do not hesitate to ask for help if you are struggling to get started. You are free to read and write on any literary subject relating to Wales, so please dechrau darllen (start reading)! 

Dewithon With a Difference

It became apparent quite recently that some members of our global book blogging community were having difficulties obtaining certain UK titles, which would, of course, put the kibosh on them taking part in the official readalong. The pandemic has unfortunately caused delays in ordering books via libraries and bookshops, which is an issue I rather foolishly failed to consider until February. For this reason, I won’t invite others to join me in reading a specific piece of work this year, though in all other respects the event will continue as usual.

I intend to focus on My Favourite Stories of Wales, an accessible collection of tales selected and edited by the late great Welsh historian, author and travel writer Jan Morris. I therefore invite anyone with easy access this widely admired book to join me in reading and discussing its contents.

What’s with the Goat?

Several of you have commented on this year’s Dewithon logo, depicting a rather fine Kashmiri billy goat. How can he possibly be an emblem of Wales? Well, he is one of the 100 or so feral goats living on the Great Orme, a stunning limestone headland on the coast of North Wales, in my hometown of Llandudno.

Mum and I posing with Fusilier Shenkin IV.

The tribe has grazed the slopes of this latter-day country park and nature reserve (where, incidentally, I worked as a ranger when I was in my early twenties) since the middle of the 19th century. It is said they descended from a pair of goats presented by the Shah of Persia to Queen Victoria shortly after her coronation in 1837. At some point, Major General Sir Savage Mostyn acquired two individuals from the Windsor herd and installed them in the grounds of Gloddaeth Hall. We cannot be sure, but it is likely the goats, having once roamed the mountains of Northern India, were unable to adapt to captivity and were consequently released on to the hillside to roam at will. They thrived in isolation and over time evolved into a unique breed (Capra Markhor). They are now completely wild and very sensibly keep their distance from inquisitive humans.

Since 1884, it has become a tradition of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers to take a Great Orme goat as a regimental mascot. Most recently, Fusilier Shenkin IV who was caught on 3rd June 2018 following the death of Shenkin III at the age of seven. A carving of the new recruit now stands outside Llandudno’s theatre, Venue Cymru, and there is also a bronze sculpture of a Kashmiri Goat at the summit of the Great Orme.

During lockdown, the goats have taken to ambling along the empty streets in the town centre, helping themselves to garden plants, snoozing in unusual places and climbing on rooves. Indeed, they have become something of an international sensation, appearing in news reports around the world.

The photograph used for the 2021 logo was taken by my wonderful mum, Eve Parry, a keen photographer and nature lover who lives in an old miner’s cottage on the Great Orme. She also happens to be author and illustrator of Aliens on the Great Orme, a fascinating book about the goats, which was published in the early 1990s.

Become a Dewithoner

Please do let me know if you write anything at all about the Wales Readathon, but I’m especially keen to highlight your reviews and features. To do this, simply leave a link to your piece in the comments section below or drop me a line – and should you post anything relating to the event on Twitter, I would appreciate you using the hashtag #dewithon21. Thank you and good luck (diolch a phob lwc)!

Categories: Reading Wales

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57 replies

  1. I’ve loved those Llandudno goat videos on Twitter. So cheering!

    • They are making the most of lockdown, although small groups have been known to wander into the town over the years. In the days when I was a GO warden, I remember receiving a call one day from an anxious gentleman to tell me “six ruddy goats are waiting at the traffic lights near the train station!” I must admit, I had to stifle a chuckle.🐐

  2. I managed to find a used copy of My Favourite Stories of Wales on abebooks so hopefully that will arrive soon! To my shame I’ve not read much Welsh literature, but this is the perfect opportunity to change that. Can’t wait to read all the Dewithon posts!

  3. I was just thinking about Dewithon today. No copy of the Welsh story collection at the library, so I’ve reserved Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere instead. And there’s always Jon Ronson!

    I love the Great Orme goats, and how wonderful that your mum has written about them!

  4. I’m all ready to go and my two books will be shared on my State of the TBR post tomorrow. I can’t work out if Eley Williams of “The Liar’s Dictionary” is Welsh, they’ve been shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize but I couldn’t find the rules for that! I think two is a good number anyway but if I find they are as well, I’ll try to add them in!

    Good luck with the month!

    • Great stuff, Liz.😀

      Hmm, a very good question. After a brief Google search I discovered Eley Williams was born in Chiswick and lives in Crouch End, London – but, of course, she may well have Welsh parentage or have lived and worked in Wales at some point. I would love to claim her as one of our own but I simply can’t find a connection.🤔

      Writers of any nationality are eligible to enter the DT Prize but they must be 39 years-of-age or under and their work written in English – so, I’m afraid that doesn’t really help.

  5. I do have some unread Welsh books – will see if I can squeeze something in! 😀

  6. I heard about Honno Press this past summer, but I waited too long to check them out to see if they shipped to the US. But I manged to find The Soldier and the Gentlewoman, by Hilda Vaughan on Kindle and that will be my contribution. Looking forward to reading that and learning more about Welsh authors and books!

  7. This is so awesome! Thanks so much for hosting, Paula! Will try to join in the Welsh celebrations 😊 I didn’t know that Jan Morris was Welsh! So cool! That book on Welsh stories looks wonderful! Happy Dewithon! Happy reading!

  8. Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus, Paula! And wonderful to discover about your mum’s book—I shall bear it in mind. I’ve only seen the goats from a distance on the Great Orme when we visited Llandudno a decade ago, but at least I got to see the prehistoric copper mines.

    I must read some more by the late Jan Morris, only her Hav novels and a study about Hong Kong spring to mind. In the meantime, here’s a link to my review of Angharad Price’s The Life of Rebecca Jones, which I posted today:

  9. Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus Paula . Such a shame we couldn’t have kept the sunshine for today. Still the daffodils are nodding beautifully in celebration of our special day.

    Of course I’ll be joining in Dewithon. Ive spent the last week trying to decide what to read. In the end I plumped for The Mabinogion; you can’t get much more of a Welsh classic than that can you? We never did this hook when we were in school but I read it on my own. Of course that was several years ago so I’ve forgotten most of it.

    • Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus to you too, Karen! 😀

      I hate to tell you but we’re enjoying glorious weather in the north today. Well, I suppose they do say ‘the sun always shines on the righteous’! 😉

      The Mabinogion is a splendid choice. I can’t wait to read your post!

  10. I failed last year–I got too revved up about too many challenges and this one lost. I have one book that will work, so if I get to it it will be a nice surprise participation point! Good luck everyone!

  11. Thank you for the background on the goats, so interesting and your mum’s book – wow! I keep meaning to read How Green is my Valley so maybe now’s the time!

  12. I’m in, Paula, wouldn’t miss it! Of course, as yet I haven’t the foggiest what I will be reading 🙂

    Thank you for the wonderful background story on Welsh billy goat gruff aka Fusilier Shenkin IV and that adorable photo of you and your Mum – literary talent runs in the family!

  13. Reblogged this on Thoughts Become Words and commented:
    Reblogged with great pleasure – Gretchen 🙂

  14. I love the story about the goats (and your mom)!
    I have already chosen a book for this – can’t wait!

  15. I’ve now tried posting three times without success – fingers crossed this time! If the post doesn’t make sense it’s because I’ve forgotten half of it! Jan Morris remains an inspiration; what a remarkable life she led. I love the story behind the goat logo, Paula! Your mum sounds an inspiration in her own right. Though it’s very tempting, I won’t be joining you in your choice of book because I know I’ll over-reach and end up with nothing finished. I’ve chosen The Seasoning by Manon Steffan Ros as my read and I’m loving it. 🤗

    • Oh ‘eck! What a nuisance.

      I agree, Jan Morris is irreplaceable but thankfully she left behind a huge body of work. I intended to pick one of her books for this year’s Readathon but I’m afraid it wasn’t to be. Anyhow, I really like the sound of your book choice. It seems like something I would enjoy.

      LOL! My mum is a case. She’s 87 and not in great health but she’s a tremendously positive person and always bursting with life.

      I hope you have a fab Dewithon, Sandra! 🤗

  16. Sadly, I will not be able to join you this year as I’m committed to (re)reading Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies this month before starting on The Mirror and the Light for the first time in May.
    I’ll be better organised next year!

    Diolch a phob lwc!

  17. So very interesting! ! Goats are interesting animals! ! I grew up in the United States and goats find themselves on farms and ranches. This articles is really outstanding and highlights the life of goats, so very well. Thank you! ! !

  18. I admit to knowing very little about goats but I don’t let that get in the way of my enthusiasm. 🙂

    It’s such fun to admire your photographs (and your mum’s) and to know that Dewithon has had a successful kickoff and is well underway by now.

    Even if I am slow to participate, I am keen on the idea, and so what if I missed browsing the options in a library branch, I’ve gathered up a couple of options via their holds system, which makes me feel very thankful indeed.

    Happy Dewithoning!


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