Making Hay


As everyone is looking forward to an exciting - if a little muddy - week at the Hay Festival this year, the Library of Wales series will be proudly represented there by Philip Pullman, Dai Smith and Jon Gower, who will be discussing the most recent addition to the Library of Wales series, Make Room for the Jester on Sunday (June 5th). 


On this luxurious Sunday morning at 11.30am - which will give you enough chance to have a lie-in and stop for elevenses beforehand - Philip Pullman, Dai Smith, Jon Gower and Richard Davies will be picking over Make Room for the Jester; that haunting, overlooked classic of north Wales by Stead Jones. It is the latest volume to be published in the Library of Wales, and one which tells the story of a group of young men over a long, eventful and bewildering summer at the seaside town of Porthmawr.



Philip Pullman opens his foreword to the volume by saying,


Stead Jones and Make Room for the Jester: well, I’d never heard of it. But there are books that are unjustly forgotten, and I think this is one of them. When I read it for the first time a few months ago I was enchanted with it, not only for the memories of place and atmosphere it evoked so skilfully, not only for the light touch and the sympathetic voice of the narrator, but mainly for the brilliantly drawn portrait of an extraordinary individual...


And it is this individual, Gladstone Williams, which for Pullman provides the sheer ‘boundless inventiveness’ of the book. Lew, the narrator, seriously chases ambitions in education, where Gladstone is ‘a dropout’.


The novel, which portrays their lives and their run-ins with infamous drunk Ashton Vaughan, was described as “the Welsh Catcher in the Rye” on its publication in 1964. And, like The Catcher in the Rye, Make Room for the Jester ought to be “one of those books” which everyone should read as part of their growing up.


About the Author


Stead Jones was born Thomas Evan Jones in 1922 and was brought up in Pwllheli, north Wales. He attended University College Bangor, where his studies were halted by World War Two and five years in the British Army. He in fact found himself in France on D-Day, and was later promoted from private to corporal and given a signal detachment in India and Burma. Make Room for the Jester is his first novel, and was published in 1964 in both the UK and the USA to much critical acclaim. It was followed in 1966 by The Ballad of Oliver Powell (published under the title The Man with the Talents in the USA), and in 1968 by his third and last novel, The Lost Boy. He published all his books under the pseudonym of Stead Jones.


If you’re coming for the whole festival (an impressive commitment - but then again can anyone get tired of Hay’s second-hand bookshops?), or if you’re only coming for this week, or even just for the weekend, make sure you stop by and have a listen.


Philip Pullman, Dai Smith, Jon Gower and Richard Davies - Sunday 5th of June, 11.30am, Elmley Foundation Theatre.


For more info, have a peek at

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