Eluned Phillips was a passionate woman who ignited equally passionate responses in others. The second woman ever to wear the National Eisteddfod crown – Wales’ most prestigious Welsh language literary prize – she is the only woman to have won it twice. Unfortunately, her writing life was blemished by rumours over
her work’s authorship.
Unusual among Welsh women of her generation, Eluned embraced an unconventional lifestyle which took her to pre-war London and Paris, where she met artists Augustus John, Edith Piaf, and Pablo Picasso, as well as the writer Dewi Emrys, the dissolute ex-preacher and poet whose biography she published in 1971. In France
she also fell in with a group of idealistic Bretons who introduced her to romantic love and nationalist politics.
This is an affectionate and yet critical biography of an unsung heroine of Welsh literature during a time of great change – taking her from rural Carmarthenshire to bohemian Paris and urban Los Angeles. She was often frowned upon, but never less than true to herself.
Award-winning poet Menna Elfyn examines Phillips’ life and work and argues convincingly that Eluned’s poetry is undoubtedly hers and more than worthy of two Crowns. Absolute Optimist was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year on publication in Welsh. It has been translated for Honno by Elinor Wyn Reynolds.