Gareth Miles (19 April 1938 – 6 September 2023) stands as a monumental figure in the Welsh literary and cultural landscape. Born in 1938, Miles achieved acclaim not only as an author but also as a translator, holding a special place in the hearts of many who are passionate about the Welsh language.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith, a pivotal Welsh-language organization, owes its foundation to pioneering individuals like Miles. His commitment to the language was unwavering and was intertwined with his personal beliefs. A devout Marxist, Miles introduced an innovative perspective to Welsh literature by translating one of Shakespeare’s classics, Hamlet, into Welsh—infusing it with his Marxist ideology.
His literary prowess was further acknowledged in 2008 when his book, Y Proffwyd a’i ddwy Jesebel, was honored with the prestigious Wales Book of the Year award for Welsh language fiction. This accolade underscored his significant contribution to Welsh literature and culture.
His influence extended beyond just the realm of literature. Martin Shipton, a journalist, hailed Miles as “one of the most influential figures in the 20th century Welsh language movement.” His passion for Welsh culture and literature, combined with his individualistic beliefs, made him a prominent figure in the movement.
In the theatrical world, Miles was known for his staunch belief in the preeminence of the playwright. Instead of leaning towards devised work, he championed the traditional dramatist’s role in the theatre. Politically, while deeply devoted to his homeland, he preferred the title of “patriot” over “nationalist”, emphasizing his love for Wales over political nationalism.
Sadly, the world bid farewell to this literary titan on 6 September 2023. Gareth Miles departed at the age of 85, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire generations of Welsh speakers and literature enthusiasts.