Bethan Gwanas (whose real name is Bethan Evans) is a significant contemporary Welsh author who publishes almost exclusively in the Welsh language. A prolific writer, she has had 17 titles published in the last decade. Gwanas writes across various genres, including novels for teenagers, but her recent work has predominantly targeted adult audiences.
Bethan Gwanas was born in Brithdir, UK. She graduated from Aberystwyth University, where she studied French. In 1985 she won the Crown at the Urdd Eisteddfod, a Welsh-language youth festival. Over the years, she has lived in diverse locations such as Bethesda, Cardiff, Nigeria, and France but has eventually returned to Rhydymain.
Before becoming a full-time author, Gwanas worked as a teacher, was deputy head at the Urdd Centre at Glan-Llyn, and was a research assistant and producer on Radio Cymru. In 2003 she gave up her job as a literature promoter with Gwynedd Council to concentrate on her writing.
Her debut book, Amdani! (1997) inspiring six series on S4C (Welsh-language television channel). It is a novel about a women's rugby team, published under the name Bethan Evans. Later she took the name "Gwanas" (as did her father) from the home farm of that name, built in 1838.
Gwanas wrote all but the last three series of the show. Additionally, she co-wrote a stage play, developed in collaboration with Script Cymru, which incorporated music and songs and explored themes of "Sex, mud, and rugby from a female perspective." Script Cymru received a major ACW (Arts Council of Wales) Audience Development Award for their work in the Welsh language.
Gwanas's literary career gained momentum with the publication of her second book, Dyddiadur Gbara (1997), a factual account of her experiences working with VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) in Nigeria.
Gwanas has been honored with two annual Tir na n-Og Awards for Welsh-language children's fiction, receiving the award in 2001 for "Llinyn Trôns" and in 2003 for "Sgôr." These awards are bestowed annually by the Welsh Books Council. Her novel "Hi yw fy Ffrind" (She is my friend) was shortlisted for Llyfr y Flwyddyn (Book of the Year) in 2005.
Known for her informal writing style, Gwanas often incorporates explicit elements not commonly associated with Welsh literature in her adult novels. Her works draw inspiration from her personal experiences, such as working in a library (mirroring Blodwen Jones in her trilogy) and participating in outdoor education (featured in "Llinyn Trôns"). Gwanas does not delve into the extent of autobiographical elements in the childhood aspects of "Hi yw fy Ffrind."
In addition to her literary achievements, Gwanas has gained recognition as a Welsh Michael Palin. She embarked on two S4C series, "Ar y Lein" (On the Line) and "Ar y Lein Eto" (On the Line Again), where she circumnavigated the world twice, following specific lines of latitude and longitude that pass through Wales.
Gwanas has also contributed a weekly column to Yr Herald Cymraeg.
Bethan Gwanas lives in Dolgellau, Gwynedd.
Photo credit: Iolo Penri