Emyr Humphreys Biography
(1919– ), The Little Kingdom, A Toy Epic, The Waves, A Man's Estate
Welsh novelist, poet, and critic, born in Prestatyn, the son of a Flintshire schoolmaster, educated at the University of Aberystwyth. In 1939 he signed on as a conscientious objector to work on farms in Pembrokeshire and North Wales. Later he worked as a teacher, drama producer, and lecturer. His first novel, The Little Kingdom (1946), established the grave, inquiring, yet often lyrical tone of later work. Pre-eminent among his earlier novels is A Toy Epic (1958), which interweaves the first-person stories of the lives of three Welsh boys (a vicar's son, a farmer's son, and an urban working-class boy) up to the threshold of manhood, all forming a paradigm of Welsh life. The novel is indebted to Virginia Woolf's The Waves. Other novels of note are A Man's Estate (1955), Outside the House of Baal (1965), and Jones (1984). At his best Humphreys has great poetic insight into the puritan and into the ordinary but serious mind. The Taliesin Tradition (1983) is a study of the Welsh character over the centuries. Salt of the Earth (1985) opens a sequence of novels about Welsh social and political life from the 1920s onwards.