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Finding out more about 5,000 of our most famous characters; WEBSITE LETS YOU DELVE IN TO PAST TO READ BIOGRAPHIES OF WELSH FIGUREHEADS - FOR FREE.

Byline: ROB DAVIES

THE biographies of nearly 5,000 eminent Welsh people are now available online to browse for free thanks to pioneering work by the National Library of Wales.

The Welsh Biography Online, produced by the National Library in Aberystwyth, is an electronic version of the volumes published by the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, together with new articles commissioned by the Society.

All those included are people who have made a "significant contribution" to Welsh life and ranges from the time of Cunedda in the 5th century up to The National Library, the present day, and who have since died.

Among the list are politicians, sportsmen and women, writers, musicians and "characters".

The authoritative site has been edited by academic and former Librarian of the National Library of Wales, Dr Brynley Roberts.

"The Welsh Biography Online has earned its place as an authoritative resource for anyone interested in Welsh life," said Dr Roberts.

"The fact that it is online means it is easy and free for anyone to access.

"It is also updated regularly and has even managed to include some older articles of persons which were not included in previous print editions of the Biography.

"It's an excellent example of co-operation between two of Wales's oldest institutions, the National Library of Wales and the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion."

Until now the online Biography was an updated version of the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, printed volumes published by the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, that contained articles about eminent Welshmen and women who had died before 1970.

Under Dr Brynley Roberts' editor-ship, more than 100 new articles have been added of people who have died since 1970.

A Library spokeswoman said: "The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion have decided not to publish new print editions for the time being but rather to take advantage of the new search facilities which are available through the internet.

"Working in conjunction with the National Library in Aberystwyth, articles will be updated regularly online including corrections to printed volumes as well as including some biographies which were also not included in earlier print volumes. "The historical scope of the online Biography is long and extends from Cunedda who came from the Hen Ogledd (present day Northern England and Southern Scotland) at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire to rid Wales of Irish invaders, to present-day heroes.

"The biographies online include princes, members of the gentry, poets and writers, government officials, ministers, artisans, sportsmen, workers, soldiers, industrialists and farmers not to mention the contribution made by many notable women to Welsh life."

Among the famous figures are Ann Griffiths, Iolo Morganwg, George Thomas and Iorwerth Peate and the novelist Daniel Owen, whose statue can be seen in Mold town centre.

George Thomas was the highly-regarded, softly-spoken Welshman who was much loved in his role as Speaker of the House of Commons. He held the position prior to Betty Boothroyd and became Lord Tonypany.

An indication of the level of detail to be found in the online biographies is illustrated by the opening lines of his entry: "Viscount Tonypandy (1909-1997), Labour politician and Speaker of the House of Commons. He was born on 29 January 1909 at Port Talbot, the son of Zachariah Thomas (1881-1925), a coalminer and native of Carmarthen, and Emma Jane (1881-1972), the daughter of John Tilbury of Lanfield, Hampshire.

His father was a drunkard who deserted his wife, leaving her to bring up five children alone."

The plan now is to take the project further by adding portraits, paintings, sound and video recordings and more sophisticated searching facilities.

The Welsh Biography Online is a bilingual resource with every entry in Welsh and English.

It combines the two volumes, The Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 and The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-1970 with the three Welsh language volumes, Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig hyd 1940, Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig, 1941 - 1950 and Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig, 1951 - 1970.

. You can log on to Welsh Biography online at: http://yba.llgc.org.uk

CAPTION(S):

Famous explorer from St Asaph, HM Stanley Former Prime Minister David Lloyd George The 'Prince of Goalkeepers' James Trainer Bishop William Morgan translated the Bible A statue stands in Mold to the famous Welsh writer Daniel Owen who is best known for the book Hunangofiant Rhys Lewis The National Library, Aberystwyth
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 11, 2010
Words:722
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