Reading Raymond Williams in 2012: How Re-publishing Rekindled our Interest


Steve Woodhams' recent essay Reading Raymond Williams in 2012 is now available on the Raymond Williams Foundation website. Part review, part report, Steve asks why the interest in Williams - particularly that of heavily contextualising his writing with letters and rediscovered papers - has revived, and attributes the recent flood of publications on and by Williams with encouraging it.

Woodhams believes that Williams's biographer, Dai Smith, helped rekindle the interest by building A Warrior's Tale out of 'hitherto unseen letters, diaries, teaching notes, and preciously, notebooks in which were contained Raymond's plans and sketches for an extraordinary journey of work but which showed its integration regardless of type.'  

The essay focuses in particular on three publications: Border Country, The Long Revolution, and The Volunteers. Border Country and The Volunteers are both included in the Library of Wales series: a series concerned with keeping culturally important Welsh writing available. Steve argues that re-publication of these titles has fuelled interest in a way that previous academic writing had failed to do. He ends his essay with a plea for publication of further work by Williams.

The recognition of a growing desire for a collective approach, collating information from a variety of sources in order to build a fuller understanding of links between the author's work as a whole, is close to Woodhams' heart. He says 'such "intra-disciplinarily" is perhaps a hallmark of my way of thinking, attempting to see interconnectedness, relations and totality'. Of course in order for readers to access enough material to draw wider conclusions about the work as a whole the work must be available.

The Raymond William's Collection: A Report, edited by Steve, represents the culmination of long endeavour to make publicly available unpublished manuscripts, notebooks, letters, diaries and papers that the writer Raymond Williams (1921-1988) left in part discarded, even neglected. The Report is available from the Parthian website, priced £5.00.

The Raymond Williams Papers are housed in Swansea and details can be found on the RW Foundation website at, - where the full copy of Reading Raymond Williams in 2012 is available.

Steve is an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths. His current research is on South Wales and the Coalfield in particular: including the role of chapels, their relation to adult learning and in turn the relation of that to radical politics. He assisted the Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales (CREW) and the Archivist with assembly of the Raymond Williams Papers, donated by the Raymond Williams Estate.


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