Branwen, daughter of Llyr by Dr Mark Williams – 23 May 2022

This talk introduces the most tragic of Welsh heroines, whose story is found in the second of the Welsh Four Branches of the Mabinogi, composed around 1100AD. A British princess who becomes the wife of the King of Ireland, she finds herself at the centre of disaster as the two islands descend into a bloodthirsty and genocidal war, with her brother and her husband fighting on opposite sides.

Reading: Branwen, Daughter of Llyr/The Second Branch in The Mabinogion, trans. Sioned Davies.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

Dr Mark Williams is Fellow and Tutor in English at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. He is a specialist in the medieval languages and literatures of Wales and Ireland, and the author of Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth (Princeton, 2016), and The Celtic Myths that Shaped the Way We Think (Thames & Hudson, 2021). He is in training as a Jungian psychoanalyst

Further Reading

W. B. Yeats, ‘Rosa Alchemica’ in Mythologies (many editions)

George Russell, ‘The Legends of Ancient Eire’

Celtic Myth by Dr. Mark Williams

These lectures introduce a range of famous figures and fascinating stories from the medieval Irish and Welsh past, including many characters who number among the gods and goddesses of the Celts. The aim is to explain their cultural context and status as literature, showing who produced these stories in the form in which we have them, and why. Each lecture also draws attention to the ways any given story has been reimagined in modernity, being forged anew for our own times. In each case I have suggested one paperback to read beforehand.