Books

My books examine the social, cultural and political history of Wales and are especially interested in the manifestation of social democracy in that part of Britain.

Forthcoming titles include:

  • Mirror, Mirror: The Life of Elaine Morgan
  • No Laughing Matter: The Political Life of Gwyn Thomas
A LITTLE GAY HISTORY OF WALES

University of Wales Press (2019)

A Little Gay History of Wales tells the compelling story of Welsh LGBT life from the Middle Ages to the present day. Drawing on a rich array of archival sources from across Britain together with oral testimony and material culture, this pioneering study is the first to examine the experiences of ordinary LGBT men and women, and how they embarked on coming out, coming together and changing the world. This is the story of poets who wrote about same-sex love and translators who worked to create a language to describe it; activists who campaigned for equality and politicians who created the legislation providing it; teenagers ringing advice lines for guidance on coming out and revellers in the pioneering bars and clubs on a Friday and Saturday night. It is also a study of prejudice and of intolerance, of emigration and isolation, of HIV/AIDS and Section 28 – all features of the complex historical reality of LGBT life and same-sex desire. Engaging and accessible, absorbing and perceptive, this book is an important advance in our understanding of Welsh history.

This is a big book – big on ideas, analysis, and empathy, and big on tracing the lived experience of gay people in Wales. – Prof. Jeffrey Weeks


LABOUR COUNTRY: POLITICAL RADICALISM AND SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IN SOUTH WALES, 1831-1985

Parthian (2018)

Since the end of WWI, one party has held the momentum of political and social change in South Wales: the Labour Party. Its triumph was never fully guaranteed. It came quickly amidst a torrent of ideas, actions, and war. But the result was a vibrant, effective and long-lasting democracy. The result was Labour Country.

In this bold, controversial book, Daryl Leeworthy takes a fresh and provocative look at the struggle through radical political action for social democracy in Wales. The reasons for Labour’s triumph, he argues, lay in radical pragmatism and an ability to harness lofty ideals with meaningful practicality. This was a place of dreamers as well as doers. The world of Arthur Horner and Aneurin Bevan.

And yet, as the author shows, this history is now over. Although a trajectory leads from the end of the Miners’ Strike both to the advent of devolution and the circumstances that led to the Brexit vote in 2016, these are exits from Labour Country, not a continuation. Sustained by a powerful synthesis of scholarship and original research, passionate and committed, this book brings the cubist epic of South Wales and its politics to life.

The finest history book about Wales in a generation – Prof. Dai Smith

Staggering in its ability to travel from decade to decade and from one previously distinctly-labelled age to another with total freedom … Not many Welsh history books have been so easy to read. – Prof. Peter Stead


FIELDS OF PLAY: THE SPORTING HERITAGE OF WALES

Royal Commission in the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales (2012)

In the twenty-first century, many of us take the existence of parks, recreation grounds and leisure centres for granted. But, behind them all, are stories of struggle – often against adversity – and a collective desire for something better for the future. Fields of Play traces that history of that struggle and examines the impact of sport on the landscape of modern Wales. It explores the diversity of sporting facilities from public parks and open-air swimming baths to welfare grounds, stadiums and the role of the countryside as a national playground.

Superbly illustrated with historical and contemporary photography including many never-before-seen images from the Aerofilms archive of the National Monuments Record of Wales, Fields of Play will enable an understanding of this significant aspect of Wales’ built heritage and encourage a greater appreciation of sporting places in the landscape.

A highly readable and engrossing study – Dr Emma Lile