Y Gymraes

Y Gymraes was a Welsh language woman’s magazine published between 1850 and 1851. (Another magazine with the same title was published later in the century.)

It included essays written for prizes on the subjects: Merched Ceredigion / Swydd Aberteifi; Merched Penfro; Merched Brycheiniog; Merched Swydd Fon a Merched Cymru.

This series of essays appear to be based partly on the ideas which Lady Llanover (the chief patron of Y Gymraes) espoused in her prize winning essay in 1834 in which she suggested that the women of Wales should wear home-made clothes made of locally produced woollen fabric which she thought was warmer, more waterproof and more hardwearing than the flimsy cottons worn by young English women. It has been suggested that most of the articles in Y Gymraes were written by men [Williams, Sian Rhiannon, (1991), p. 73] even though the competitions were organised to encourage women to write for each other. This appears to have been unsuccessful and the evidence (in tone and the choice of Nome de plume) implies that many of the following essays were written by men. In addition to the influence of (or sycophancy to) Lady Llanover, the essays contain many similar comments and criticism of the adoption of English fashions by young Welsh women which suggest that they are based either on previous essays, or reflect current, probably male, perceptions of Welsh costume: there is nothing in them that can be identified as an explicit reflection of a woman’s perception of Welsh costume.

Williams, S.R., ”The True ‘Cymraes’. Images of Women in Women’s Nineteenth Century Periodicals’, in John, A.V., (ed.), Our Mother’s Land: Chapters in Welsh Woman’s History, 1830-1839 (Cardiff, 1991), pp. 69-92