Named after my grandmother, and as an embodiment of Welsh heritage, I have always been proud of my name (it’s the sort of bone-headed pride which comes despite not having a hand in the choosing of it). Today, this splendid name seems to be in something of a decline – even on the lists of Welsh baby names (it’s all about Seren, apparently). So here, to assist in the Gwenaissance, is a list of fabulous Gwens of past, present and the fictitious imagination…
- Gwen Cooper (Torchwood) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYxWY1r7BiM (she’s not English, you know)
- Gwenllian ferch Gruffudd https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwenllian_ferch_Gruffydd (definite Xena, Warrior Princess vibe) See this rousing trailer: https://twitter.com/BBCWales/status/1264605832081072136 – I’m not the only one who thought Xena.
- Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn (tragic stolen medieval baby princess, but has her own society) http://www.princessgwenllian.co.uk/
- Gwen John (artist) https://biography.wales/article/s3-JOHN-MAR-1876 (talented, slightly scandalous).
- Gwen Guthrie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwen_Guthrie (nothing going on but the rent: first non-British Gwen I ever came across: international Gwen-solidarity)
- Gwen(ffrewi) St Winifred – she of the bouncing head, decapitation/stiched back on miracle: well, well … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Winifred https://www.stwinefrideswell.org.uk/
- Gwen(doline) Mary Lacy, from Malory Towers. Misunderstood and misrepresented by her goody two-shoes over-privileged boarding school nemesis, Darrell Rivers. Quite right not to like lacrosse.
- Gwen from the film Gwen (a bit scary, but nice big GWEN on the poster – good for Gwen-awareness… https://www.empireonline.com/movies/news/exclusive-new-trailer-and-poster-for-dark-drama-gwen/ )
- Gwen Stefani (what is she up to? Deserves her place for barking brilliance of Rich Girl)
- Gwen Torrence (official fastest Gwen in the Gwenlympics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwen_Torrence )
And hello to a new Gwen
New to me at least – check out this piece on Gwen Farrar – a vintage comedic Gwen (category: Gwentertainment) https://womenshistorynetwork.org/partners-and-pals-by-alison-child/
A blow to Gwen-awareness
This week, like much of academia in the UK and elsewhere, I have been in recording and captioning mode, as we prepare for the new Blended Learning World (the sensible bit – online learning – rather than the ludicrous face to face during a pandemic bit) and I have learned a terrible truth: the captioning software does not recognise the name Gwen. I am therefore ‘when seaborne’ … Not so bothered about the second bit – in fact my family did spell it without the u until c. 1900 when they decided Seabourne was posher, or something. But not recognising ‘Gwen’ – clearly an outrage!
Historical Gwen Injustice
This one is not at all trivial. The first woman executed in Wales for witchcraft, during the reign of Elizabeth I, was, apparently, a Gwen: Gwen ferch Elis to be exact: https://parish.churchinwales.org.uk/a065/history-en/gwen-ferch-elis-1542-1594/
An injustice at more than one level.