The Writers of Wales Database
Writer, artist and educator. Born in 1951 in London to Welsh and West Indian parents. She travelled to the Sudan as a child and then moved to Wales in 1959. Trained as a teacher, became a home - educator and a tutor, ran a shop and a childcare business, workshop co-ordinator, before deciding to learn to write. Isabel has published several articles and a story. She has recently completed her first novel entitled …And… (http://bethesdamoon.blogspot.com/) a conjunction of history and imagination. She won the New Impact best article for 2002, ’A Black/White Identity - the unspeakable speaks’. She has been published in the New Welsh Review and Urban Welsh anthology. Her literary influences include William Faulkner, Hanif Kureishi and Jamaica Kincaid.
She is interested in race, identity, legacy and psychological transformation and the relationship between art and literature. She likes the discarded, the difficult, what is mixed and what doesn’t conform to set categories. She lives with Bob Macintosh, her partner and mentor, and one of her four children. She gives private tuition to primary school children, makes things as well as organising and running craft workshops.
The Literary Encyclopedia online (Denis Williams biography)
New Welsh Review and BBC website (’Black/Welsh Identity - the unspeakable speaks’)
Mixedness and Mixing Conference. C.R.E. and The Runnymede Trust (’Racial Identity: to have or to be’)
Drawing Apart: Urban Welsh (contributor) (Parthian, 2006)
BBC website (’Old Jim Crow’)
Unheard Words website (’Writing can change your life’)
And. is a psychological memoir of the lives of my mother and father, Catherine Alice and Denis Williams. Inspired in part by Jamaica Kinkaid’s Mr Potter, the writing explores the nature of identity, place, history, the meaning of a colonial background, the divisiveness of colour, alienation, and the tradition of the English language, which paradoxically both liberates and incarcerates.
My mother was from a small town in North Wales; my father from Guyana, both ex colonies: they met each other in London after the Second World War. My mother already had a child by a black American airman when she met my father, a scholarship student on the first grant awarded by the British Council. My mother had been brought up in an orphanage: she was very literate, religious and poetic and creative.
In London, my father was very quickly famous as a painter, but success, on white terms, proved to be a humiliating experience for him. They travelled to the Sudan to look for his ancestral roots; there he wrote what is considered one of the first postcolonial texts, Other Leopards. They then moved to Nigeria, where he worked with, and befriended, Ulli Beier, Wole Soyinka and others. This was in the 1960s, when the Mbari movement was in its infancy.
My book is not a biography, but focuses on impressions, and charts a holographic journey where simple accounts reveal the depth of their lives together from the point of view of one of their children. Anyone from teenagers onwards can read this multi-layered and imaginative book, whose centre is identity, culture, and the nature of desire. It is simultaneously personal and universal, and ideal for students at school, at college and university or for anybody interested in race, or what it means to be mixed.
The title symbolises the attempt of the writing to deconstruct the hierarchical structure of language, and knit from the fragments of identity, an authorial voice without authority - without the defining rejection of ’other’. The stripped down language allows the exploration of the clash of cultures - Welsh, English, and Caribbean - through the absorbent mind of the child.
This book is available to read on line at http://bethesdamoon.blogspot.com/