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Mair, 92, inspired by tutor Eabhan as she launches latest novel

Mair Wynn Hughes, who has written 114 books and attends creative writing classes through Coleg Menai, is launching her new novel Y Bocs Erstalwm at Caernarfon Library next week

Ninety-two-year-old Mair Wynn Hughes is launching her latest novel, Y Bocs Erstalwm, having been inspired by her Coleg Menai creative writing class.

Mair, who lives in Llanrug near Caernarfon, is one of Wales’ leading authors, having written 114 books for children, young people and adults and won numerous awards.

Y Bocs Erstalwm, her first new book since 2008, follows Lydia, an elderly woman suffering with dementia, as she tries to piece together her forgotten identity during the Covid lockdown.

Published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Y Bocs Erstalwm launches at Caernarfon Library next Thursday, May 23 (6pm).

Ahead of the launch, Mair said she is grateful to her creative writing class, and especially to tutor Eabhan Ni Shuileabhain, for giving her the impetus to keep writing.

“I’ve been going to Eabhan’s classes for about four or five years,” said Mair. “I’ve always written, but she’s given me inspiration to carry on.

“There’s always something to write for the following week. It’s so easy when you get to my age to sit back and say ‘I’ve done my work’, but because I’ve been going to Eabhan’s sessions, it keeps me going and keeps my brain working!

“She’s a wonderful tutor, one of the best, and is always so positive. It doesn’t matter whether it’s somebody who’s used to writing or not, she gets the best out of everybody.

“There are about 10 of us in the group. We’re still getting together in the church hall in Llangefni every week to write something even though classes aren’t on at the moment.

“It could be a poem, a short story, or something else, but we do that because of Eabhan and how she has inspired us.”

Creative writing classes are part of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Potensial (Lifelong learning) provision. Mair started taking classes after her husband Tom died 13 years ago.

She said: “It was a great benefit to me, and I enjoyed it so much I kept going year after year. There are people who have never written before… and it’s all because of Eabhan.”

Mair, originally from Bryncir near Caernarfon, went to Bangor Normal College before working as a teacher at Ysgol Pentraeth.

After meeting Tom, a farmer, she settled in Pentraeth and began her writing career. She published her first book, Straeon Sioni Sbonc, in 1967, has won the Tir na n-Og Award four times, and received the Mary Vaughan Jones Award in 2006 for her contribution to children's literature.

In Y Bocs Erstalwm, Mair explores two forms of loneliness - the loneliness of dementia, and that of the Covid lockdown.

“Lydia has come out of hospital and is suffering the beginnings of dementia,” Mair explained. “When she looks in the ‘Bocs Erstalwm’ it’s full of photos. Every time she looks in the box she’s searching for herself - she’s trying to find the person she lost, and she knows it’s there somewhere in the photos.”

Mair has two daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Over the years, her work has covered many diverse topics.

She said: “I’ve written about anything and everything - including robots, children’s adventures and the two World Wars!”

  • Y Bocs Erstalwm will be available from Thursday, May 23 in all Welsh bookshops, via and The official launch takes place at Caernarfon Library on Thursday, May 23 at 6pm. At the launch, Mair will answer questions from John Dilwyn Williams. All are welcome, and entry is free. Copies of the novel will be sold on the night by the Palas Print shop.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai offers creative writing courses as part of its Potensial (Lifelong Learning) provision. For more information, click here.