Professor Menna Elfyn pens biography of Eluned Phillips


"Perhaps after I’ve gone, someone will tell the truth about me.”  These were the words of Welsh bard Eluned Phillips and this is Menna Elfyn’s intention in her biography of Eluned published by Gomer Press, Optimist Absoliwt: Cofiant Eluned Phillips. 

Menna Elfyn - Director of Creative Writing at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David - knew Eluned Phillips and was familiar with some of her work and the stories surrounding her colourful character but when she was given the opportunity to delve deeper into the life of the charismatic redhead from Cenarth, Menna was inspired to pen the biography of her life and work.

While studying Eluned’s personal papers, many of which were in her own handwriting, Menna came across a few treasures that helped gain a greater understanding of the bard. The volume of the work showed her versatile creativity and having painstakingly read her manuscripts, Menna decided that Eluned’s contribution had to be recorded.

Eluned Phillips (1914 - 2009) was the only woman to be crowned twice at the National Eisteddfod during the twentieth century and the biography traces her unconventional life – both personal and public. Menna feels that Eluned was wronged and her book is an attempt to right that wrong.

In times where only men were considered to be competent poets, Eluned was something of a phenomenon – not only a woman who could compose poetry but a crowned bard! She was often slighted and many doubted her ability as a poet. But Eluned was quite a character and took the criticism lightly. An acquaintance of Edith Piaf and Dylan Thomas, she was a woman who seized every opportunity that came her way. As the title suggests, she was an absolute optimist.

Optimist Absoliwt: Cofiant Eluned Phillips is available from all good bookshops and online retailers or directly from the publisher, Gomer Press

Note to Editor

Bibliographical Details:

Optimist Absoliwt: Cofiant Eluned Phillips


Menna Elfyn

Gomer Press





  • Menna Elfyn is one of Wales’s most prominent poets
  • Menna’s work has been translated into more than 20 languages and she regularly reads her work at festivals and universities both nationally and internationally
  • Menna Elfyn lives in Carmarthen and is Professor of Creative Writing and Director of Writing Programmes at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
  • Visit her website