A Welsh Way of Life

Welsh Books Council

A Welsh Way of Life - 02 October 2008

For the first time, a collection of photographs taken by one of Wales greatest Victorian photographers, John Thomas, is about to be published. He is described as "one of the world’s greatest photographers" by the head of the Collections Department at the National Library of Wales and the author of a new book,  A Welsh Way of Life,  Iwan Meical.

John Thomas, a Welshman from Cellan, Ceredigion, took photographs from all areas of Wales during the latter half of the nineteenth century, after starting his career by inviting several prominent preachers to sit for him. The venture was successful and by 1867 Thomas was confident enough to start his own photographic business, "The Cambrian Gallery". He continued with the work for almost forty years, travelling the length and breadth of Wales, taking photographs of landscapes as well as portraits.

According to the author, "In the work of John Thomas we have a personal, emotional and lively account. Not only is he an important Welsh photographer, but is one of the world’s greatest photographers."

A Welsh Way of Life  is a bilingual account of the life and work of John Thomas. A collection of 130 photographs have been brought together for this unique volume.

Iwan Meical says: "His work is inextricably associated with Wales of that period, when great revolutionary changes were occurring - and during an age when photographic portraits, showing people at their most respectable, were much sought after, John Thomas was the exception because he chose to photograph ordinary labourers and even tramps and drunks."

Through his photographs of fairs and ports, as well as chapels and landscapes, we have a new insight into Wales and the Welsh people of the Victorian age.

The author of the text that accompanies the photographs is Iwan Meical Jones, who is the Head of the Collections Department at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. He has published a number of articles on Welsh photographers, but this is his first book. The launch will be held in the Drum at the National Library of Wales on 3 October.

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