Rhosneigr in the Press
BBC Wales, 18th August 2010
'Madam Wen exhibition in Rhosneigr's threatened library'
Villagers fighting to keep a library open have enlisted Madam Wen, a 17th Century pirate and smuggler, to help.
Booktryst, 20th August 2010
'A Pirate Queen Sets Sail To Save A Welsh Library'
The Rhosneigr Romanticist, November 2009
As a small boy playing on the beach and among the sand dunes at Rhosneigr, a pretty village on the west coast of Anglesey, North Wales, in the 1960s, Tim Hale was both fascinated and terrified by stories he heard about the legendary Madam Wen, her ghostly white horse and her fearful band of robbers & smugglers who roamed the local area at night.
As he grew older, it was a great disappointment to discover that the only book about her exploits was only available in Welsh, a language he didn’t speak.
But now, Tim, a successful businessman in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, has, in a unique way, brought back to life not only the Madam Wen legend he heard as a boy but also the writer responsible for popularising her, William David Owen.
In his new book, The Rhosneigr Romanticist, Tim not only unearths hitherto unknown facts about the life of Owen – he was variously a schoolteacher, school administrator, barrister and solicitor as well as an author – but also includes, for the very first time in English, abridged versions of his only two known stories, Madam Wen and Elin Cadwaladr.
Owen’s first posting as a teacher was in the Gloucestershire hamlet of Joy’s Green, where he remained for two and a half years, but his travels then took him to Derbyshire and London, before settling back on Anglesey.
Owen’s travels also brought him to Derbyshire, where he spent over ten years as a Teacher and School Administrator in the Clay Cross and Pilsley areas, before moving on to London and then finally settling back on Anglesey
Tim first fell for Rhosneigr when he went there on holiday with his parents and grandparents in the late 1950s. Half Welsh on his father’s side, he has visited it every year since and his love of the place led to him writing a pictorial history published in 1990 and carrying a foreword by Glenys Kinnock, who had fond memories of holidays there at her grandparents’ home.
Tim had intended his new book to be an update of his old one but became so enthralled by Owen’s literary output and the twists and turns of his somewhat restless life that he decided to devote the entire work to him and to his family connections, which include close links to Florence Nightingale.
Says Tim, who spent 2 years of his spare time researching and writing the book: “As a boy, I often heard the stories about Madam Wen while on holiday and there was always a certain mystery about them. I even used to dream about finding Madam Wen’s Treasure Cave in the rocks.”
“Later on, it was a real revelation to discover that Madam Wen’s author, William Owen, actually lived in the village for many years and died there – just a fortnight after his novel was published in book form.“
The other Owen story published in abridged, English, form is Elin Cadwaladr, an earlier romance set around Rhosneigr and the parish of Llanfaelog, which Owen parodies as ‘Bryn Siriol.’ It contrasts the village’s traditional way of life with the effects of its increasing popularity as a holiday resort.
Jenni Wyn Hyatt, a retired teacher born in South Wales and now a freelance translator and family history researcher, was responsible for the two translations from Welsh to English.
Tim says there have been a few articles written about Owen, most of them in Welsh, which is understandable.
"However, that still leaves us non Welsh speakers in almost complete ignorance of one of Anglesey’s unassuming but fascinating characters and I offer this book as a tribute to his work.”
William Owen was born, raised and married on Anglesey and also worked in Gloucestershire, Derbyshire, and London before settling in Rhosneigr.