Matthews, Jodie (2011) Borrowing Welshness: wild Wales, affiliation and identity. North American Journal of Welsh Studies, 6 (1). pp. 53-61. ISSN 1554-8112

Somewhat appropriately, considering the eccentric and dream-like style of much of his writing, George Henry Borrow’s name appears fitfully in mainstream literary, cultural and historical studies. The largely autodidact travel writer, essayist, and translator was born in Norfolk, but his family moved around Britain with his father’s job as an army recruiting officer, including a short spell in Huddersfield. He was a popular writer in the nineteenth century, and cheap editions of his works, particularly those which focused on Gypsies, such as Lavengro (1851) and The Romany Rye (1857), have continued to be produced ever since, serving the demand for nostalgic accounts of Britain’s Romani population. Borrow also travelled widely in Europe while working for the British and Foreign Bible Society, and two of his other well-known works are The Bible in Spain (1843) and The Zincali (1841), also about the Romani. Academic attention to his oeuvre has been more sporadic. However, as the field of study concerned with the figure of the‘Gypsy’ has developed since the late 1980s (with the help of postcolonial theorisations of racial difference), Borrow’s work has been the subject of re-readings. In the light of these reconsiderations, particularly that of Deborah Epstein Nord, this essay discusses the ways in which Borrow uses an affiliation with both Welsh and Romani cultures to shape his own sense of self on the page.

MatthewsBorrowing.pdf - Published Version

Download (186kB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email