Ifor Williams was born at Pendinas, Tregarth near Bangor, the son of John Williams, a quarryman, and his wife Jane. His maternal grandfather, Hugh Derfel Hughes, was a noted local historian who wrote a well-regarded book on the history of the area. He went to Friars School, Bangor, in 1894 but had only been there for just over a year when he suffered a serious accident. This left him with back injuries that made him bedridden for several years.
Having recovered, he attended Clynnog School in 1901 and in 1902 won a scholarship to the University of Wales, Bangor. In 1905 he graduated with honours in Greek, then in 1906 in Welsh. He spent the 1906-07 academic year at the Department of Welsh working for his M.A. degree and assisting Sir John Morris-Jones, the Professor of Welsh, before being appointed an assistant lecturer. In 1920 a Chair of Welsh Literature was specially created for him, which he held until Sir John Morris-Jones died in 1929, when he became Professor of Welsh Language and Literature.
Ifor Williams had a life-long interest in Welsh place-names, and was probably the first to apply rigorous academic methods to this field. He published Enwau Lleoedd ("Place Names") in 1945 which is still of great value today. Many of his early publications were written in order to provide teaching material and included versions with detailed notes of a number of old Welsh tales, notably the Mabinogi in 1930. He also produced books giving the text with notes of the works of a number of mediaeval poets such as Dafydd ap Gwilym and others in 1914 and Iolo Goch in 1925 with colleagues.
His main field of study however was Old Welsh and the earliest Welsh Poetry. He produced Canu Llywarch Hen in 1935 covering the poetry associated with Llywarch Hen, then in 1938 possibly his most important work, Canu Aneirin, the text with notes of the Gododdin attributed to the 6th century poet Aneirin. For the first time the original text was distinguished from later additions and made comprehensible with notes, and this work has provided the foundation for all subsequent work on this poetry. Canu Taliesin in 1960 covered the work of the other 6th century poet Taliesin. He also published works on later Welsh poetry such as the 10th century Armes Prydain.
Williams edited the Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies from 1937 to 1948. He was also an excellent speaker on the radio, and selections of his radio lectures were published in three books. He retired in 1947 and was knighted the same year. In 1949 the University of Wales awarded him the honorary degree of Ll.D.. He lived in retirement in Menai Bridge and died in 1965.
Publication No. GB2457896, Published on Sept. 2, Assigned to Ifor Williams Trailers for Improved Trailer (British Inventor)
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