2017 Speakers

Speakers at the 2017 Festival. From left: Mark Oakley, Helen Wilcox, Tony Brown, M. Wynn Thomas, and Rowan Williams

Helen Wilcox

download-helen-wilcoxHelen Wilcox is Professor of English at Bangor University. Her main area of research is English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, (on which she has published more than a dozen books and over a hundred articles), including devotional poetry, Shakespearean drama, and the work of early women writers. She is a leading authority on the work of George Herbert, whose poems she has edited for Cambridge University Press (2007/2011/2016). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.

M. Wynn Thomas

wynn-thomas-swansea-acM. Wynn Thomas is Professor of English and Emyr Humphreys Professor of Welsh Writing in English, Swansea University. A founding director of the specialist research centre CREW, he is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Learned Society of Wales. The latest of the more than twenty books on American poetry and the literatures of Wales he has published is The Nations of Wales: 1890-1914, and his 2013 study RS Thomas: Serial Obsessive was shortlisted for the Book of the Year Prize. Made responsible by R. S. Thomas for his unpublished estate, in 2001 he published a posthumous volume of the poet’s poems under the title Residues

Rowan Williams

archbishop-rowan-websizeRowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury (2002-2012), is Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. A distinguished theologian, author, churchman, Welshman and poet, highlights of his career are: Doctor of Divinity degree, Oxford; Fellow and Dean of Clare College, Cambridge; Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford; Bishop of Monmouth (1992-2000), and Archbishop of Wales (2000-2002). In his book The Poems of Rowan Williams (2002), his tribute to the memory of R. S. Thomas titled “Deathship” opens with lines that capture RS in retirement, living in a cottage overlooking the sea: “The last years, words from a window / smoothing the sea, / the iron back and forth / to probe the fugitive wrinkles”

Mark Oakley

image-1-mark-oakleyMark Oakley is Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral and responsible for the educational and outreach work of the Cathedral. He served as Rector of St Paul’s, Covent Garden (the Actors’ church); he is Deputy Priest in Ordinary to HM the Queen, and a Visiting Lecturer at King’s College, London. His writings and broadcasts explore poetry, spirituality, and human rights. His books The Collage of God (2001) and The Splash of Words (2016), in which he quotes RS Thomas several times, echo in his topic for this festival.

To see him talking about his latest book: The Splash of Words: Believing in Poetry visit

Tony Brown

tony-brown-cropped-websizeTony Brown, Professor Emeritus in the School of English at Bangor University and Co-Director of the R.S. Thomas Study Centre. He has published extensively in the field of Welsh writing in English. He was the founding editor of the journal Welsh Writing in English: A Yearbook of Critical Essays (1995-2007).

Publications on R.S. Thomas extend over some thirty years and include R.S. Thomas (U. of Wales P, 2006 & 2013) He and Jason Walford Davies published R. S. Thomas’s Uncollected Poems (2013) and Too Brave to Dream (2016)

Susan Fogarty

susan-fogarty-websizeSusan Fogarty, Ministry Warden for the Bro Enlli Ministry Area in the Diocese of Bangor, has facilitated RS Thomas events in Aberdaron since 2012. She has devised a unique prayerful meditation: Stations: A Poetry Pilgrimage which has been presented in churches in the UK and the U.S. She leads groups on walks and retreats during which she reads Thomas’s poetry in the landscape which inspired him. Articles by Ms Fogarty have been published in The Church Times, Faith & Freedom and Christians Aware. She is a Founder of the RS Thomas & ME Eldridge Society.