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The generosity of the North American Welsh Society, i.e. the Foundation and Society of Wales America and the Union of Wales and the World here in Wales are responsible that a very special translation of the poet Menna Elfyn’s notable book about another bard, Eluned Phillips, was launched at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.


Another poet, Elinor Wyn Reynolds, was responsible for the translation ‘Absolute Optimist’ and the work was presented to Myra Thomas Lawrence, close frined of Eluned Phillips and one of the chief benefactors of the North American Welsh Societies and the Union of Wales and the World.  Eluned visitedMyraon many occasions prior to her death andMyrawas very disappointed that she was unable to read Menna’s book. Myrais over 90 years old and has now lost her sight.


Talking BooksWalescame to the rescue and Menna recorded her original biography “Optimist Absoliwt” to be presented especially to Myra Thomas Lawrence inMontecito,California.

A recording, made some years ago, of Eluned herself reading her autobiography was also sent.  The request to record this book came from the North American Welsh Societies as a mark of appreciation by the members ofMyra’s generosity towards the societies which are connected toWales.


As a result of this recording the service based inCarmarthenreceived a gift of £1000 in order to continue providing material for people with sight problems.


“It was pure pleasure to be part of this exciting project”, said Sulwyn Thomas, Chairman of Talking BooksWales. “Menna read her book over many recording sessions.  The cd was sent to Will Fanning (President of the North American Welsh Society), who lives inLos Angeles.  He than travelled over 100 miles to Montecito to present the recordings toMyra.  We understand that she was thrilled to hear Menna relating Eluned’s colourful and debatable life story.  This year it was wonderful to see another young lady fromCarmarthen, Elinor Wyn, creating a masterful translation.  The next task is to record this latest work and then send another package across theAtlantic Ocean.  Many thanks to the Foundations for their generosity”.


An opportunity arose at the end of the launch to take a photograph.  In it we see Will Fanning and Phil Davies (Secretary of the North American Welsh Society), Menna Elfyn, Elinor Wyn Reynolds and Mansel and Sulwyn Thomas from Talking Books Wales.

Back row: Will Fanning and Sulwyn Thomas

Front row: Philip Davies, Menna Elfyn, Elinor Wyn Reynolds, Mansel Thomas


During the Eisteddfod week the officers of the Society had an opportunity to meet Rhian Evans who was responsible for starting to record books in 1979, then called the Welsh Cassette Scheme – forerunner of Talking Books Wales.

In the photograph Rhian is seen chatting to Will Fanning and the second speaking to Will Fanning and Sulwyn Thomas in the North America Welsh Society stand.


For more information contact: Philip Davies (e.mail nwafcymru@gmail.com) neu Sulwyn Thomas (sulwynthomas@yahoo.co.uk)

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