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REVIEWS AND COMMENTS ON '100 GREAT WELSH WOMEN'

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Meic Stephens, The Western Mail Magazine, March 16th, 2002

(Reviewing both '100 Great Welshmen' and '100 Great Welsh Women')

'These are not necessarily books that you wan to read from cover to cover, but to browse in, following your nose, as one section leads to another in a serendipitous sequence that throws up some pleasant surprises. Both are really extraordinary achievements by a single author whose industry and enterprise seem to show no bounds … Terry Breverton is to be congratulated.'


Dr Peter N. Williams, Ninnau (The North American Welsh Newspaper)

January 1, 2002

'Perhaps the most prolific Welsh author today is T.D. Breverton, of Glyndwr Publishing, in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales. This astonishing worker has recently produced such practical reference books as 'An A-Z of Wales and the Welsh', 'The Secret Vale of Glamorgan', 'The Book of Welsh Saints' and '100 Great Welshmen' (Volume I of Eminent Britons), as well as published important books by other Welsh authors. Now Terry has done it again. His latest book has finally arrive to fulfil the enormous gap in our knowledge of the enormously important, but sadly unheralded contribution of women, not only to Welsh society and Welsh history, but to Western civilisation itself. Titled '100 Great Welsh Women' (Part II of Eminent Britons), it gives short biographies to those of the fairer sex who deserve to be added to out pantheon of Welsh heroes.

Acknowledging that women have so often  played subordinate roles in our male-dominant society (and Wales is no exception), Breverton's list of suitable candidates is purely a personal one, but all those included are those who  have connections with Wales and who have been an inspiration for all women, everywhere. Included are queens, princesses, writers, mothers of famous men, poets, civil rights activists, politicians, and so on to include women of every imaginable activity and social status.

This most invaluable addition to every bookshelf and library begins with the little-known Saint Almedha (5th-6th century) and ends with Jane Williams (19th century). In between, you can read of such modern notable Welsh women as singers Charlotte Church, Shirley Bassey, and Petula Clark; of world-class athletes such as Tanni Grey-Thompson; of such historical characters as Nell Gwynn, mistress of Charles II, or Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great; of Catherine Zeta Jones, whose recent wedding to Michael Douglas caused such a stir; and so on.

The book is an absolute must for all those who value their Welsh heritage, and for all those who wish to see Welsh women accorded their rightful place in history…'


The Daily Mirror, Saturday December 29th 2001

New Book: 100 Great Welsh Women contains some surprises!

OZ Diva Kylie is a Valleys Girl!

What do Guinevere, Nell Gwynn, Bette Davis, Lady Llanover and Kylie Minogue all have in common? They're all 'Welsh' according to the author of a new book - Jane Helmich reports -

Ever wondered which movie stars or historical figures have Welsh ancestry? Then Terry Breverton's new book, '100 Great Welsh Women' is the one for you.

Famous figures stand alongside equally illustrious but lesser-known names. Each entrant enjoys a detailed biography which flags up their links to Wales, and it is a fascinating read. His list includes the obvious, such as Shirley Bassey and Catherine Zeta Jones, alongside the more surprising, such as Kylie Minogue, and the obscure, such as Princess Nest, and Helen of Wales.

Described by Mr Breverton as a 'pop princess', Kylie's Welsh connections come via her mother, Carol Jones, who emigrated to Australia from Maesteg as a youngster in 1955, and married Ron Minogue. Both Kylie, and her sister, Dannii, have enjoyed success in soaps and as singers. The author quotes Danii as saying: 'I love Wales, it's a great place, and because of my mother and my ties, it's always a special kind of feeling when I come here.'

Meanwhile Mr Breverton has found that the ties of Bette Davis, Hollywood move star, go back a lot further. She was the daughter of Harlow Davies, a lawyer with Welsh ancestors. James Davis left Wales for the New World in the early 1600's and helped found a city in Massachusetts, the state where Bette was born.

The author has delved back into the mists of time for some of his famous women, and the first entry of all is for a woman who lived in the fifth and sixth century. Saint Almedha was martyred by Saxons on a hill near Brecon. Also included in Boadicea - Buddug, Queen of the Iceni - who led her Celtic warriors against the Romans.

Welsh women of letters are also found in the book. Mary Ann Evans, better known as George Eliot, was the youngest child of Welsh land agent Robert Evans. Although she was born in Warwickshire, she became the protegee of a Welsh governess while at school in Nuneaton, and later attended the Nant Glyn Welsh Baptist School in Coventry.

The author of Middlemarch and Mill on the Floss was once described as 'the greatest living English novelist', but the Welsh have reason to be proud of her as well, it would seem

These are just a few of the many names Mr Breverton - whose previous books include 100 great welsh men - has selected for his work. Any such lists provoke debate and controversy. In his introduction, he accepts that there will be criticism of those he has left out, but says the final list is his individual choice and gives his reasons for the names he has included.

He admits that one person has been quite deliberately omitted - Margaret Roberts. "Her services to the destruction of British manufacturing and social equality as Mrs Thatcher, and her illegal treatment of miners can never be forgiven by this author."

Other famous names in the book include: singers Charlotte Church and Petula Clark, actresses Sarah Siddons and Sian Phillips, fashion designers Laura Ashley and Mary Quant, sportswomen Tracy Edwards and Tanni Grey-Thompson plus Hollywood stars Myrna Loy and Esther Williams.

(There was another favourable review in The Daily Mirror upon November 19)

(also reviewed in The Daily Mirror on November 19th 2001)


Sunday Express Books Review January 20, 2002

Women in the Hillside

100 Great Welsh Women given 4-star review by Jonathan Hourigan

Terry Breverton's 100 Great Welsh Women has garnered media attention primarily because of the improbable  inclusion of the diminutive Australian pop diva Kylie Minogue. Or perhaps that should be a Welshified La Minogue.

The book strives not to be a non-sequitur. Thus Breverton gathers usual suspects such as various early saints and queens (including Guinevere, Boadicea, Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor), as well as later stars such as Shirley Bassey, Sian Phillips, Petula Clark, Mary Hopkin and Charlotte Church. Not to mention the incomparable Catherine Zeta Jones, who, of course, is always mindful to keep her Welsh credentials up to date. Eighteen months ago, her son was christened Dylan and her fledgling production company is called Milkwood.

Other Great Welsh Women fall into two categories. First, those less well-known but obviously Welsh, including, for example major creative talents like Gwen John and Jean Rhys. Or secondly, those of international repute but less obviously connected to Wales, including Bette Davis, Elizabeth David, George Eliot, Nell Gwyn, Myrna Loy, Mary Quant and Delia Smith, as well as Kylie Minogue (her mother, Carol Jones, left Maesteg in 1955).

Breverton's breadth, generosity and sheer enthusiasm about Wales are compelling. However, one is left feeling that his potential readership may be confined to the Welsh,  those with Welsh ancestry, Kylie-obsessives or someone like myself, about to marry a hugely accomplished Welsh museum director - come to think of it, quite a large potential readership after all!


South Wales Echo Saturday November 17 2002-09-21

Welsh Girl Power through the Ages - 2 page article by Mark Stead

New Book reveals the Women who made Wales Great

It's not too often you see Charlotte Church and Catrin Glyndwr - daughter of one of Wales favourite sons, Owain - in the same list. Or Shirley Bassey and Tanni Grey-Thompson rubbing shoulders with Elizabeth Tudor, who ranks among England's supreme monarchs, and Gwenllian. But that's exactly where you'll find them in a new book celebrating Wales' most fascinating females.

Author and publisher terry Breverton - who estimates he has written a million words in two years - launches his latest work, 100 Great Welsh Women - in Cardiff next week.

The result of another extensive trawl through time, it celebrates the history and achievements of Welsh women through the ages.

Terry, from St Athan, lectures in business at UWIC, but most of his recent spare time has been spent penning a string of books - An A-Z of Wales and the Welsh, 100 Great Welshmen, The Book of Welsh Saints and The Secret Vale of Glamorgan have all hit bookshelves in the last few years. And he hopes his labours of love will help bring the pride back into Welsh history.

"All my books have been about the culture and heritage of Wales, because it isn't taught in schools and I don't think politicians are interested in it.' He says. 'If we don't know our history, how are we supposed to attract tourists? When I came back her to live a few years ago, I couldn't find anything to show my children what being Welsh means, so I decided if nobody else was going to do it, I would do it myself. I find the Welsh attitude to history very disappointing. Nobody seems interested in it, and I believe that's because we have been put down for so long, we believe and have accepted that we are second-class citizens. We've even allowed our greatest hero - King Arthur - to be hijacked by the West Country."

Terry believes that the tales of Welsh heroes and heroines need to be retold to a wider audience, and hopes his books will help recover some of the lost ground. "We've had Braveheart - why can't the same thing be done about the lives of Glyndwr and Owain Llawgoch?" he asks. The achievements of the women profiled in Terry's latest book stretch from the dawn of time to the present day. "Some of the women were born outside Wales, but considered themselves Welsh," Terry explains. "My criteria were that all of them have done something for Wales and felt something for Wales. When I was researching 100 Great Welshmen, I kept coming across the achievements of Welsh women, so that was how the book started."

The journey through time starts with Wales' greatest saints, many of whom were women, and continues through the stories of Elizabeth Tudor, Gwenllian, Boadicea, Petula Clark, Laura Ashley, Shirley Bassey, Delia Smith and modern-day icons such as Tanni Grey-Thompson. "Tanni is such an interesting character, but she kept telling me she wasn't good enough to be included," laughs Terry. The book also lifts the lid on some hidden stories, such as the Welsh woman who was the mother of the first Bishop of Rome, and the Pembrokeshire lady who was the unacknowledged Queen of England. "I've tried to do them all justice and, to some extent, put the record straight," says Terry.

"Wales has a great tradition of female equality dating back before the first laws drawn up in the 10th century. Females have never been considered to be inferior to men, and Welsh people have always looked up to their mother as much as their father."

Hard work or not, terry has no intention of resting on his laurels as far as books are concerned. "Nest up are a Welsh Almanac and a book of Welsh pirates," he says. "After all, the world's most successful pirate, Black Bart Roberts, was from Pembrokeshire; the world's most cunning pirate, Howell Davis, was Welsh; and so was the world's most famous buccaneer, Captain henry Morgan, after whom the rum is named. I have always wanted to find out more about these people, and there should be societies devoted to them, but instead it seems we ignore everything about the past."

Having clocked up so many words on Wales' past, how does Terry keep going? "I really enjoy doing the first half of the book, but after that you tend to get bogged down," he says. "But, because you always end up thinking there's something you should have done, but didn't, one thing I've mastered is never going back to the book once it's finished."

100 Great Welsh Women will be launched at Oriel in Cardiff at 6pm this Thursday, with a poetry reading from leading Welsh poet Ruth Bidgood, and music from the superb singer-songwriter and actress Amy Wadge.


South Wales Echo November 28th 2001

Vale Author Studies Stars

A Vale of Glamorgan author is making headlines with a new book in which Kylie Minogue rubs shoulders with the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, and actress Catherine Zeta Jones.

100 Great Welsh Women, Terry Breverton's companion piece to 100 Great Welshmen, details the cream of Welsh womanhood from the past 2000 years, including saints, queens, athletes and actresses.

Alongside familiar national sirens such as Charlotte Church and Shirley Bassey, some choices such as Kylie, Hollywood actress Bette Davis and top cook Delia Smith have been causing a stir in the Welsh media.

Mr Breverton, 55, a senior business lecturer at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, said: 'The women did not have to be born in Wales, but had to have benefited Wales to be categorised as great.'

The author of such previous books as The Secret Vale of Glamorgan and The Book of Welsh Saints is no stranger to controversy after claiming Elvis may have had Welsh ancestry in his book An A to Z of Wales and the Welsh.


PRAISING OUR FAMOUS MEN - AND WOMEN - 'YR ENFYS', SPRING 2002

Let's admit it - one would be hard-pressed to think of 50 Welsh women who could be described as 'great'. Terry Breverton, however, has just proved that to be a fault with us rather than the contribution made over the years by the women of Wales. Famous Welshmen however - well that's a different tale and Mr Breverton has not only compiled a volume of 100 famous Welshmen but is working on a second hundred.

Marriage spoilt it all

Eminent Women are, definitely, thinner on the ground and it is significant that many of those of the Victorian era who have a place in Breverton's '100 Great Welsh Women' were unmarried.

"Marriage meant subservience", he explains - meaning that there was not enough time to keep house and become famous. But in another place he does draw attention to how enlightened the Welsh attitude was in the days of Medieval lawmaker Hywel Dda.

"Welsh Law gave precedence to the woman's claim in any rape case; marriage was an agreement, not a holy sacrament, and divorce was allowed by common consent with equal share of land and possessions; illegitimate children had the same rights as legitimate children…" and so forth.

I digress.

Breverton's two well researched and entertaining volumes are a delightful tour-de-force and an astounding achievement by a writer who seems to be ever so prolific.

It was a huge task even in its contemplation.

What about grannygate?

First find your Welshman - and then, Welshwoman - seems to have been the battle cry and they seem to crop up in the most unusual and unexpected of places.

Terry Breverton, however, seems to have at his fingertips the answer to those most frequently asked of Welsh questions; 'Who are you? Where are you from?' and 'Whose your family?'

Some will undoubtedly cry 'grannygate' at some of the names included and it is an interesting point how many generations of exclusion from a Welsh environment does it take to stop a person 'being Welsh'?

For instance, can Better Davis be fairly described as Welsh because her father was lawyer Harlow Davis, 'of Welsh extraction'? In spite of this the author, thankfully, does not fall into the 'Wales on Sunday' trap of seeking such tenuous links as to make the claim of Welshness ridiculous. There is no one here whose only claim to Welshness is to have a grandmother who once saw, when shopping in Cardiff, a Welsh collie crossing the road!

Train of thought

It is amazing, however, where those Celtic genes can be found and what tales there are to be told.

David Franklin Williams, the son of Welsh emigrants to the USA, noticed a train station named Myrna in early 1905. His daughter Myrna Adele Williams later became the enchanting Myrna Loy. Kylie Ann Minogue is the daughter of Carol Jones who emigrated from Maesteg in 1955.

Some will be surprised to hear that food writer Delia Smith, is the daughter of Welsh-speaking Etty Lewis from Gwynedd and that the only woman ever to receive the US Congressional Medal of Honour was of Welsh extraction.

The list extends from Branwen ferch Llyr in the Mabinogion to contemporary songstress, Charlotte Church, who had to be dragged off the stage when she sang Ghostbusters at a holiday camp aged three.

Laura Ashley made it big in the world of fashion - and mary Quant - well, made it small, designing the mini-skirt. Elizabeth david is credited with bringing English cooking into the 20th century.

English novelist George Eliot was mary Ann Evans, whilst Catherine Alice Evans discovered the cause of brucellosis and pioneered pasteurised milk.

Hid her face

Felicia Hemans, the author of the much parodied. 'The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck', was Welsh by adoption and when she had to leave Wales "wrapped her face in a cloak so she could not see the hills fade out of sight".

The first volume '100 Great Welshmen' goes all the way back to Adam - well let's not get above ourselves, Adams really; President John Adams, the first occupant of the White House with his roots in Penybanc farm near Llanboidy in Carmarthenshire.

Donald Watts Davies, born in Treorchy, was the computer pioneer who made possible the internet, whilst 16th century mathematician Robert Recorde of Tenby invented the equals sign =. These two books will be a boon to those who embark upon conversations with the words, 'Did you know it was a Welshman?'

Mothers of the Famous

And in the introduction to his '100 Great Welsh Women' Terry Breverton hints at the possibility of another marvellous book - '100 Great Welsh Mothers of the Famous' - or should that be 'Mams'?

"And what about mothers of the famous?" he asks. "In America we have Jesse James' mother, the redoubtable Zerelda Samuels, who had a remarkable life. Sarah Morgan … was the mam of Daniel Boone. Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, mother of George, was Welsh, as was Nancy Hanks Lincoln."

I look forward to that one - because it is also an oft asked Welsh question - 'Who was your Mam, then?'

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