David John Williams

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D. J. Williams (David John Williams) (26 June 1885 – 4 January 1970) was one of the foremost Welsh-language writers of the twentieth century and a prominent Welsh nationalist.

D. J. Williams in the 1936 Plaid Cymru pamphlet Coelcerth Rhyddid

Williams was born in Rhydcymerau, Carmarthenshire. He studied English at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and Jesus College, Oxford. For most of his life he taught English at the grammar school in Fishguard (now Ysgol Bro Gwaun), Pembrokeshire.

A socialist, he was one of the founders of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh National Party, in 1925. He took part, with Saunders Lewis and Lewis Valentine, in the symbolic burning of a bombing school at Penyberth in north-west Wales in 1936. He spent nine months in Wormwood Scrubs prison.

Williams was a short story writer of renown and also the author of two volumes of autobiography. All his work is inspired by his vision of his native locality, of a close-knit community where common values give worth to all. Hen dŷ ffarm ("The old farmhouse") was translated into English by poet Waldo Williams in 1953 as part of a UNESCO programme to promote minority languages to wider audiences.[1]

He died in 1970 at Rhydcymerau, Carmarthenshire.


  • Hen wynebau ("Old faces"), 1934. A portrait of his native locality.
  • Storïau'r tir ("Stories of the land"), 1936, 1941, 1949. A series of three volumes of short stories.
  • Hen dŷ ffarm ("The old farmhouse"), 1953. Autobiography.
  • Yn chwech ar hugain oed ("When I was twenty-six years old"). 1959. Autobiography.
  • Y gaseg ddu ("The black mare"), 1970. Short stories.


  • Jenkins, Dafydd (1973), D. J. Williams. Writers of Wales series. Cardiff : University of Wales Press. An English introduction to his life and work.
  • 'Williams, David John (1885-1970)'. In Meic Stephens (Ed.) (1998), The new companion to the literature of Wales. Cardiff : University of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-1383-3.