The Writers of Wales Database
Hywel Francis was born in the mining community of Onllwyn in the Dulais Valley. His father, Dai Francis, was the general secretary of the South Wales Area of the NUM (1963-76) and the first chair of the Wales TUC (1975). Hywel and his wife, Mair, and all their children, were all active participants in campaigning in support of the miners cause in 1984-85.
With Dai Smith, Hywel was the official historian of the miners union, publishing The Fed: A History of the South Wales Miners in the Twentieth Century (1980, reprinted 1998). He also published Miners Against Fascism: Wales and the Spanish Civil War (1984, reprinted 2004). He was the founder in 1973 of the South Wales Miners Library at Swansea University and an organiser of trade union day release courses for the NUM (1975-90) and community education programmes in the valleys which culminated in the creation of the Valleys Initiative for Adult Education (1987) and the Community University of the Valleys (1993).
During the miners strike he was chair of both the Neath Dulais and Swansea Valleys Miners Support Group and the Wales Congress in Support of Mining Communities and was on the editorial board of Marxism Today. He wrote extensively on the strike in such diverse journals as Barn, Y Faner, Marxism Today, New Socialist and The New Statesman, as well as chapters in Striking Back (1985). He was made a member of the Gorsedd of the National Eisteddfod in Cardigan in 1986 in recognition of his writing and campaigning for the South Wales miners.
Hywel has been Labour MP for Aberavon since 2001. He is currently chair of the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs and a trustee of the Bevan Foundation, the independent social justice think tank. Before entering Parliament he was Professor of Continuing Education at Swansea University.
With respect to History on our Side: Wales and the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike (Iconau, 2009)
"…Hywel Francis is a rare being – a scholar activist whose historical research is also a quest for good politics and for emancipating solidarities. This is his story of South Wales miners’ stalwart contribution to the historic1984-5 strike – when women created the means of survival not only for the men but also for entire communities. He brings both insider insights and a wide, humane focus to that fateful year, and the inevitable defeat; the valleys fell silent, but the creative alliances of ’84-85 infused new politics in Wales…"
Beatrix Campbell, Award-winning Journalist, Author, Broadcaster, Guardian, Independent, New Statesman
"...This book is both a retelling of the coal struggle and the struggle for coal. He mines a rich seam of the personal and political, unearthing complexity and heartache..."
"...Hywel Francis is both historian-as-witness and activist-as -historian in this engrossing account and personal recapture of the Miners’ Strike of 1984/5..."
The Origins of the South Wales Miners’ Library (History Workshop, 1976)
The Fed: A History of the South Wales Miners in the Twentieth Century (Lawrence & Wishart Ltd, 1980)
Miners Against Fascism: Wales and the Spanish Civil War (Lawrence & Wishart Ltd, 1984)
’The Right to an Ordinary Life’: Carers and Equal Opportunities (Bevan Foundations, 2005)
History on our Side: Wales and the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike (Iconau, 2009)
Striking Back (1985)
Communities and Their Universities: The Challenge of Lifelong Learning (co-editor) (Lawrence & Wishart Ltd, 1996)