Which book would you never lend the presenter asks the guest on a Radio 4 programme each week. An impossible question for me and many others of course, but if I did have to choose I think it might be my copy of Lowri by Grace Roberts, a local writer. Its basically a love story (that ends unhappily for Lowri) but it beautifully describes Welsh rural life at the end of the 19th century in my neck of the woods.
Lowri lives in the fictional village Llanara but it could be any of the villages set around our small market town, though I always imagine it as one of the hamlets out to the west where the sun sets. My copy, bought in a charity shop somewhere, is signed by Grace herself and there's an inscription from her to a Geraint Morgan which to me makes it special and a copy I would never willingly lend out.
I tried to research Grace when I first found the book but there was not much to find. As far as our local library knew she did not write another book. Looking again now with all the resources of the internet at my fingertips, there is still nothing recorded about her. I might try and track her down on Ancestry and at least find her birth and death records - just for my own satisfaction.
On the same detective tack, I recently bought a small photograph taken in 1908 at Criccieth. I thought I'd try and find out a bit more and searched the 1911 census for 10 Arvonia Terrace.
Low and behold it seems one Mary Agnes Long was the only inhabitant. A single lady aged 70 and a superannuated teacher, ie retired and in receipt of a pension I believe. Also recorded is her place of birth, Devonport, Devonshire and her only language being English. So there she is, Mary tending her front garden with a little help from....... no, I'm afraid even with the miracles of the internet I cannot tell you who her young visitor is!