ESSAY Damian Walford Davies

NWR Issue 97

Brenda Chamberlain’s The Protagonists

The centenary, this year, of Brenda Chamberlain's birth marks a sea-change – as dramatic and switchback as the tide-race in Bardsey Sound – in her posthumous literary profile. Until recently, Chamberlain was known almost exclusively by a popular readership for Tide-race (1962) – that knowing hybrid of prose journal, poetry, ethnography and the tendentious slippages of the roman à clef. By the end of 2012, however, readers will be able to reassess the European reach of Chamberlain’s imagination. The forthcoming Library of Wales edition of her eerie, genre-splicing Cold War romance, The Water-castle (1964, reviewed on p85) joins the 2009 reissue of A Rope of Vines: Journal from a Greek Island; Jill Piercy’s eagerly awaited biography will appear this year, and an anthology showcasing the range of Chamberlain’s poetry, short fiction and journal writing is also promised. This year will also see a dramatic new addition to the published Chamberlain canon: the critical edition and acting text I am preparing of The Protagonists, her astonishing play of 1967.

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