Herbert Williams was born in Trefechan, Aberystwyth, in 1932, the youngest of the six children of Richard David Williams and Minnie Esther Williams. He went to Alexandra Road Boys' School and then to Ardwyn Grammar School.
His formal education ended at the age of 15, when he was struck down by tuberculosis and spent two years in the South Wales Sanatorium in Talgarth, Breconshire. While working as a journalist – first on weekly and then on daily papers – he educated himself by extensive reading and through attending university extra-mural classes.
In the 1960s he was seen as one of the 'new wave' of Welsh poets writing in English whose voices were distinctly different from those of Dylan Thomas, Vernon Watkins, Idris Davies and others who had made their mark in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of the earliest contributors to Poetry Wales and his work appeared in international magazines. His achievements were recognised by his winning a place alongside such writers as D H Lawrence, Sidney Keyes and Edward Thomas in the Corgi Modern Poets in Focus series, edited by Dannie Abse. Since then his poems have appeared in over 20 anthologies and his commissions have included two lengthy works for BBC radio – 'A Lethal Kind of Love' and 'Journeys Through Time.'
His versatility is such that he has written two acclaimed biographies – 'Davies the Ocean', the story of that remarkable Victorian entrepreneur-philanthropist David Davies of Llandinam, and 'John Cowper Powys,' a study for Seren's Border Lines series of the hugely underrated novelist of that name. His non-fiction also includes 'Come Out Wherever You Are', an account of the mass escape of German prisoners-of-war from Island Farm camp, Bridgend, in World War Two.
In the past few years, he has added to his considerable output with three novels – 'A Severe Case of Dandruff', based on his time in the TB sanatorium, 'The Woman in Back Row,' a tale of ambition and conflicting loyalties in the 1950s, and 'Punters', set in the media world of contemporary Cardiff. All are published by Gomer Press.
His reputation was further enhanced by his short novel The Marionettes, which carried off Cinnamon Press's inaugural novella competition in the face of intense competition. Published in 2008, it has been highly praised for the vigour of its writing and psychological insight. Cinnamon Press, a lively newcomer to the UK publishing scene, launched his acclaimed poetry collection 'Wrestling in Mud: New and Selected Poems' at the Hay Festival in 2007. His second short story collection, 'Tiger in the Park', was commended as 'compulsive reading' on its appearance in 2010.
His television and radio writing includes the scripting of the BBC-2 network production 'A Solitary Mister', featuring William Ingram as the ghost of Dylan Thomas, and 'The Great Powys,' an HTV drama-documentary in which Freddie Jones played John Cowper Powys. As a producer of BBC Radio 4's Morning Story for many years, he provided vital encouragement for many new writers who have since become established names.
His awards include a Hawthornden Poetry Fellowship and a top prize in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition, which he later adjudicated. He is a Fellow of the Welsh Academy and a member of the Society of Authors.
Williams regards himself first and foremost as a poet, but the range of his work has led to his being described as 'Wales's Renaissance Man.' He is a contributor to the Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales, and was the subject of a special edition of the Radio Wales Arts programme presented by Jon Gower. The Welsh Academy and Welsh Union of Writers combined to present a tribute show in his honour at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, in 1999.
A fine performer of his own work, he has put on shows with singer Heather Jones under the title 'Heather and Herbs.' He won the Cardiff Poetry Slam 1998, and was one of the adjudicators of the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry in 2007. He has eight poems in the ground-breaking anthology Poetry 1900-2000, edited by Meic Stephens, published by Parthian/Library of Wales, 2007.
1 records were found.