Margaret Davies (writer)

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Margaret Davies or Marged Dafydd (c. 1700 – 1778 or 1785) was a Welsh poet, scribe, and manuscript collector. Her work led to the survival of large numbers of poems in Welsh.

Margaret Davies
Bornc.1700
Coetgae-du, near Trawsfynydd
Died1778 or 1785
NationalityWelsh
Other namesMarged Dafydd
OccupationScribe, poet, collector

Early lifeEdit

 
Coetgae-du, near Davies's home village

Davies was born in Coetgae-du, near Trawsfynydd in north-west Wales.[1]

CareerEdit

Davies was one of a circle of north-western Welsh women poets, including Margaret Rowlands and Alis ach Wiliam, who travelled to meet with each other and trade poems. Like the pioneering poet Angharad James, born in the previous generation, the women in this informal literary group were relatively privileged economically, possessing enough money and leisure time to make poetry composition and travel feasible.[1] In addition to her contacts in the Snowdonia area, Davies also corresponded with male poets connected with the London Celticism movement.[2] None of her own poems were published during her lifetime.[2]

Davies spent much of her career collecting and copying both printed and handwritten Welsh poems into manuscript compilations. Half a dozen women poets are represented, with some poems surviving only in Davies's copies.[3] For example, the compilations are the only known source for one of the englynion written by the medieval Welsh woman poet Gwerful Mechain.[1] Likewise, much of the surviving information on Angharad James, including the only known copy of James's elegy on her son's death, comes from Davies's manuscripts.[3]

According to the literary scholar Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, "The importance of [Davies's] contribution... cannot be over-emphasised: without her efforts in collecting and writing down poems by other women, both of her day and earlier, a significant number of poems, and even the names of the women who composed them, would be completely unknown to us today."[1]

Death and manuscript survivalEdit

Davies died in 1778 or 1785.[1]

Five manuscripts entirely in Davies's handwriting, and three others to which she contributed, are known to survive.[1] Some of these are now held in the Cwrtmawr Manuscripts collection at the National Library of Wales.[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Lloyd-Morgan, Ceridwen (1996), "Women and their poetry in medieval Wales", in Meale, Carol M. (ed.), Women and Literature in Britain, I, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 189–90
  2. ^ a b Prescott, Sarah (2015), "Place and publication", in Ingrassia, Catherine (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Women's Writing in Britain, 1660–1789, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 65
  3. ^ a b Chedgzoy, Kate (2007), Women's Writing in the British Atlantic World: Memory, Place and History, 1550–1700, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 70
  4. ^ Owens, B.G.; McDonald, R.W. (1980), A Catalogue of the Cwrtmawr Manuscripts Presented and Bequeathed by John Humphreys Davies, Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales