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Lecturer Jane launches new book ‘Nonconformist’

Coleg Menai art and design lecturer Jane Parry is celebrating the launch of her new book.

Nonconformist tells the story of Jane’s ancestors - focusing on 18th century religious pioneer Wiliam Prichard - whose history she only discovered after she and her family relocated to Anglesey from Brittany.

The book takes readers on a journey of landscape and language, arriving in the present with her reflections on contemporary Anglesey and North Wales.

Jane will be discussing Nonconformist at its official launch at Palas Print bookshop in Caernarfon on September 9, and also with presenter Rhys Mwyn on his BBC Radio Cymru show on Monday, September 4.

The work of creative non-fiction has already generated quite a buzz - but it only came about after a quirk of coincidence led to Jane uncovering deep Welsh roots she previously knew nothing about.

After moving to Llandrygarn, near Trefor in the middle of Ynys Môn, Jane discovered she was living right next door to the house where her grandfather lived, and that her ancestors were buried in the churchyard just 100 yards from her front door.

“In 2011 I took a sabbatical and went to live in Brittany,” says Jane, who has worked as a lecturer at Coleg Menai for 20 years. “But we had to move back to North Wales and find somewhere quite quickly, and we landed in Llandrygarn.

“After we’d lived there for about a year, we had a knock on the door from a lady who introduced herself as my great auntie Maxie. She thought we’d rented the house because of its history, and told me my dad’s dad had lived in the big house next door.”

Jane learned that her grandad was a first-language Welsh-speaker - spurring her to investigate how the language had been lost from her family.

She said: “My grandad was first-language Welsh, and I couldn’t work out how my dad couldn’t speak the language. It was like discovering this whole family history I never knew about, so I started researching it.”

She uncovered a strata of names and dates, taking her back to her ancestors in Pen Llŷn - and notably Wiliam Prichard (1702 - 1773), a celebrated Nonconformist who had to leave Pen Llŷn for Anglesey after setting up schools linked to Welsh chapels.

“He was a big deal in Welsh religious society,” says Jane. “He was a pioneer of the Independent movement and helped set up schools related to the chapels. But he was in conflict with the Anglican establishment of the time.

“He had quite a dramatic life - he was kicked out of where he came from, Llangybi in Pen Llŷn, because there was controversy over his religious views.

“A lot of the book is about his life and how he was persecuted by the Anglican clergy, but it also goes from the past to the present, and it’s about the ecology of contemporary Anglesey and the Welsh language.”

Jane teaches the foundation degree in art and design at Coleg Menai, having previously worked as a book designer for the BBC. Nonconformist is her second book, after her debut, Lessons In Impermanence, was published by Parthian in 2014.

For more information about the book launch and details on how to buy Nonconformist, visit or contact Palas Print at

Jane will be talking about Nonconformist with host Nici Beech at the official launch at Palas Print bookshop in Caernarfon on Saturday, September 9 at 3pm. She will also be discussing the book with presenter Rhys Mwyn on BBC Radio Cymru, on Monday, September 4 (7-9pm).

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