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How Green Was My Valley: Wikis


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1st edition cover
(Michael Joseph)

How Green Was My Valley is a 1939 novel by Richard Llewellyn. The author's claims to have based it on his own knowledge of the Gilfach Goch area were proven false, as Llewellyn was English-born and spent little time in Wales, but gathered his facts from conversations with local mining families.[1] The title of the novel appears in two sentences. It is first used in Chapter XXX, after the narrator has just had his first sexual experience. He sits up to . . look down in the valley. He then reflects: How green was my Valley that day, too, green and bright in the sun. The phrase is used again in the novel's last sentence: How green was my Valley then, and the Valley of them that have gone.


Plot summary

The novel is set in South Wales in the reign of Queen Victoria. It tells the story of the Morgans, a poor but respectable mining family of the South Wales Valleys, through the eyes of the youngest son, Huw Morgan.

Huw's academic ability sets him apart from his elder brothers and enables him to consider a future away from this troubled industrial environment. His five brothers and his father are miners; after the eldest brother, Ivor, is killed in an industrial accident, Huw moves in with his sister-in-law, Bronwen, with whom he has always been in love.

One of Huw's three sisters, Angharad, marries a wealthy coal-owner whom she does not love, and the marriage is an unhappy one. She never overcomes her clandestine relationship with the local minister.

Huw's father is also killed in a mine explosion. After everyone Huw has known either dies or moves away, he decides to leave as well, and tells us the story of his life just before he does.


The Morgans are:

  • Gwilym Morgan
  • Beth Morgan
  • Ivor Morgan
  • Ianto Morgan
  • Davy Morgan
  • Owen Morgan
  • Gwilym Morgan (junior)
  • Huw Morgan, the Narrator
  • Ceridwen Morgan
  • Angharad Morgan
  • Olwen Morgan


The author continued the story about Huw Morgan's life in 3 sequels:

  • Up into the Singing Mountain (1960) - Huw emigrates to Argentina
  • Down Where the Moon is Small (1966) - Huw's life in Argentina
  • Green, Green My Valley Now (1975) - Huw returns to Wales

Film, Television, and Stage Adaptations

Main article: How Green Was My Valley (film)

The successful 1941 film of the book had a cast which included Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Anna Lee, Roddy McDowall (as Huw), Donald Crisp, and Barry Fitzgerald. None of the leading players were Welsh. Directed by John Ford, How Green Was My Valley is one of the films selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. How Green Was My Valley is available on DVD from 20th Century Fox as part of their 20th Century Fox Studio Classics collection.

The book has twice been adapted by the BBC as a serial for television, in 1960 and 1975. The 1975 production – scripted by Elaine Morgan – starred Stanley Baker, Siân Phillips, and Nerys Hughes. It was also adapted as a Broadway musical, called A Time for Singing, which opened at the Broadway Theatre, New York, on May 21, 1966. The music was by John Morris; book and lyrics were by Gerald Freedman and John Morris. The production was directed by Mr. Freedman, and it starred Ivor Emmanuel, Tessie O'Shea, Shani Wallis, and Laurence Naismith.




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