Goronwy Owen (1 January 1723 – July 1769) was one of the 18th century's greatest Welsh poets. He mastered the traditional bardic metres and, although forced by circumstances to be an exile, played an important role in the literary and antiquarian movement in Wales often described as the Welsh Eighteenth Century Renaissance. A perfectionist who only published reluctantly and whose literary output is consequently relatively small, his work nevertheless had a huge influence on Welsh poetry for several generations and his poetic genius and tragic life gave him a cult status in Welsh literary circles.
He was born on New Year's Day, 1723 in the parish of Llanfair Mathafarn Eithaf in Anglesey and during his childhood lived at his ancestral home Y Dafarn Goch. He was later educated at Friars School, Bangor and Jesus College, Oxford, although he did not remain long at the college. Owen was admitted to the college as a servitor on June 3, 1742 but, whilst his name remained on the college's books until March 1748 (albeit with some omissions) he only resided in the college for about one week in the Midsummer Term of 1744, and incurred a debt of 15s 1d that was never paid.
In January 1746 he was ordained, and served for a time as curate of St Mary's Church, Llanfair Mathafarn Eithaf. As a young man, he left Anglesey for the last time, wandering to Denbighshire; to Oswestry where he was made a master at Oswestry School and curate of nearby Selattyn in 1746; he was master of the grammar school at Donnington and curate of nearby Uppington close to Shrewsbury from 1748 to 1753; he then moved to Walton, Liverpool and then to Northolt, Middlesex. In November 1757, he emigrated, together with his young family, to take a post at the College of William & Mary, Virginia. Although he did not stay in that post for long, he remained in Virginia until his death in July 1769. The town of Benllech in Anglesey named its village hall and its primary school (Ysgol Goronwy Owen) in honour of Goronwy Owen.
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