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Wild Wales

George Henry Borrow

Book Overview: 

The book recounts Borrow's experiences, insights and personal encounters whilst touring Wales alone on foot after a family holiday in Llangollen in 1854. Although contemporary critics dismissed its whimsical tone, it quickly became popular with readers as a travel book and more importantly as a very lively account of the literary, social and geographical history of Wales. Borrow’s engaging character comes across especially in his meetings with various itinerants – mostly native and peasant – along the muddy Welsh path. Borrow’s keen ear for dialogue may remind us of a Dickens or Trollope, and like the latter his wit and wisdom are rarely absent. Indeed the author has been described as an "eccentric, larger-than-life, jovial man whose laughter rings all through the book".

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Nearly so, sir; I believe they have been frightened away by the Gwyddelod.”

“What kind of people are these Gwyddelod?”

“Savage, brutish people, sir; in general without shoes and stockings, with coarse features and heads of hair like mops.”

“How do they live?”

“The men tinker a little, sir, but more frequently plunder.  The women tell fortunes, and steal whenever they can.”

“They live something like the Gipsiaid.”

“Something, sir; but the hen Gipsiaid were gentlefolks in comparison.”

“You think the Gipsiaid have been frightened away by the Gwyddelians?”

“I do, sir; the Gwyddelod made their appearance in these parts about twenty years ago, and since then the Gipsiaid have been rarely seen.”

“Are these Gwyddelod poor?”

“By no means, sir; they make large sums by plundering and o. . . Read More

Community Reviews

was fuer ei n interessantes kleines buch! borrow ist durch wales gewandert, sprach auch sehr gut walisisch und hat auf seinen wanderungen immer den kontakt zu den menschen gesucht und konnte mit seinen dialogen mehr ueber die waliser herausfinden als jemand anderes zu seiner lebenszeit erreichen koe

Borrow was in his early 50s when he began his walking tour of Wales. He recounts conversations and vistas, reflecting an interesting time before cars but after trains. The Industrial Revolution is at hand, and the landscape is suffering, but the people still walk barefoot upon the road and dress acc

Very enjoyable and readable - why haven't I read this before now? George Borrow was a great eccentric and what in Welsh is known as a "iaithgi", a largely self-taught linguist who acquired a knowledge of many languages, including Welsh. This book is an account of a trip he made to Wales in 1854, sta

This was much more readable than either Lavengro or Romany Rye - I think there were fewer tall tales in this work as well. His descriptions of the Welsh landscape are beautifully written, and his love of the language is evident. While I can't believe the Welsh peasants talked quite as fluently as he

This is a re-read as I read most of George Borrow's work many years ago. The ultimate travel book for Wales, albeit written 150 yrs ago. The characters he meets are perfectly illuminated, the places all still exist and are probably little changed in rural areas. Borrow was a linguist as well as a tr

Would you like to go travelling through Wales in 1854 with me?

In a time when trains are called "flying vehicles", George Henry Borrow, an Englishman who can speak Welsh, embarks on a journey on foot through most Welsh counties, delivering a unique snapshot of life in Wales in Victorian times as wel

Though it is a long read this is a highly entertaining one. Published in 1862, George Borrow rambled around a huge area of Wales on foot, searching for the birthplaces of Welsh poets and bards, warming himself by the fire of every inn he went past and talking to those from every station and way of l

The text of this book was first published in 1862. It remains essential reading for any tourist visiting Wales, because Borrow so graphically and beautifully describes the innate character of the people of Wales. As a generalisation that character is still recognisable today (2011).

The quality of h

A travelogue from a vanished world! Borrow walked through wild Wales, detailing his experiences and those he meets. The book provides a window in to a world where the first language of Welsh people was the mam iaith, the mother tongue. The book contains snippets of Welsh myth and legend. My own grea

This account of a lengthy walking tour in 1854 is an absolute gem- and I have no massive fascination with Wales! In 109 short chapters (I read a couple a day- any more would be too much) the author describes the miles he covers, the sundry folk he meets en route- locals, Irish, gypsies, English...ev

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