company came into existence in April 1963 due to the efforts of a
young Welsh Presbyterian Minister, D Ben Rees, who ministered then
in Abercynon, in the Aberdare Valley. He brought together a number
of well-known Welsh men of letters and leaders to support him
under the chairmanship of Lord Gwilym Prys Davies, then a
solicitor with Morgan Bruce and Nicholas in Pontypridd. The
editorial board of Modern Welsh Publications also included the
Anglo- Welsh poet, Harri Webb, the school teachers Merfyn
Griffith, Cyril Hughes and W M Rogers, the academic Dr Aled Rhys
Wiliam and they met regularly. From these gatherings the
publishing firm decided to concentrate on four aspects. Firstly,
children’s books. They became the pioneers of Welsh language
coloured children’s books and D Ben Rees initiated contracts with
printing and publishing houses in Eastern European countries, such
as Bulgaria, Hungary and the Czech Republic as well as the
Netherlands and Germany. These books were brought in containers
through the London Docks and carried by lorries to Teify House,
South Street, Abercynon where they were kept under trampoline
until they were disposed by the Secretary of the company to the
Welsh book shops in Cardiff (Beti Rhys in particular), Carmarthen,
Cardigan, Aberaeron, Aberystwyth. D Ben Rees would spend a number
of his Saturdays to ensure the disposal of these beautifully
produced children’s books that set the standard for the whole
Welsh language publishing scene.
The Welsh Joint Education Committee co-operated with
Modern Welsh Publications and so did a number of authorities in
Glamorganshire. For MWP usually ordered 5,000 copies of these
remarkably attractive children’s books, and today these
publications are collectors’ items and priceless.
The second strand in the 1960’s and 1970’s was to do with
producing a Year Book under the title Arolwg which was published
for a number of years under different editors. The last issue of
Arolwg appeared for 1981.
Thirdly an effort was made to produce books which would
be useful to individuals in their business and leisure activities.
Fourthly like all Welsh publishers Modern Welsh Publications
produced novels, poetry books, essays, biographies and
autobiographies. In this section the publishers were instrumental
in publishing books by poets such as Ben T Hopkins, L Haydn Lewis,
O Trevor Roberts (Llanowain), Father John Fitzgerald (Cadwyn
Cenedl), Stanley G Lewis, Jack Oliver (the barber from Lampeter)
as well as novels by D Griffith Jones, T Wilson Evans.
Over the years the publishing company has been busy, and in
1968 Revd D Ben Rees moved to Liverpool but for a number of years,
the warehouse as well as the publishing office had addresses in
Abercynon as well as Pontypridd. When this arrangement ceased the
firm and two addresses, one in Wales at Nythfa, Llanddewi Brefi in
Ceredigion and the other in Allerton, Liverpool, and their books
were sold by the Welsh Book Centre in Llanbadarn near Aberystwyth
in west Wales.
In 2013 Modern Welsh Publications will celebrate fifty years
as publishers. Since the 1980’s the firm has published a number of
books in the English language. In April 2010 they published a
biography of a well known twentieth century baric and eisteddfodic
figure called Caerwyn who lived in Liverpool as well as in
Anglesey. Earlier that month the published A Saga of a Revival, so
in the first six months of 2010 this publishing house has
published two more books, one in English and the other in Welsh.
By 1978 Modern Welsh Publications was the only publishing house in
the Liverpool Welsh community.