Professor Mary-Ann Constantine

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Professor Mary-Ann Constantine BA, PhD, FSLW

Professor / Project Leader

Tel: 01970 636543

Professor / Project Leader

I work on Romantic-era Welsh literature in both Welsh and English. I took my first degree in English Literature at Clare College, Cambridge (1988–91), and stayed on to do a PhD in Breton folklore. I moved to Aberystwyth in 1995 and held a succession of research fellowships in the Welsh Department at Aberystwyth University.

During this period I taught various topics in Welsh and Celtic Studies, and continued work on the ballad tradition in Brittany. I joined CAWCS as leader of the Iolo Morganwg project in 2002 and since then I have led a variety of funded projects looking at the literature and history of Wales, England and the Celtic-speaking countries 1700–1900.

Undergraduate and MA courses

I have taught undergraduate courses in Celtic studies including comparative Celtic cultures, aspects of folklore in Celtic-speaking countries, and an Introduction to Welsh Literature.

I have supervised MA dissertations on topics ranging from the travels of Edward Lhuyd to the novels of John Cowper Powys.

I am especially interested in the impact of the eighteenth-century ‘Bardic Revival’ on the literatures of Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland and Brittany, and in modern reimaginings of medieval texts.

Postgraduate research 

I have directed, co-supervised or examined PhDs on a variety of topics including ‘Ancient British identities in eighteenth-century Britain; northern English travellers to Wales and Scotland (1760–1820); the writer and antiquarian Richard Fenton; the cultural histories of the Tweed and the Cleddau; changing perceptions of healing wells in Wales; Breton and Scottish ballads.

I welcome proposals for research into any aspect of the literature (in Welsh and/or English) of Romantic-era Wales or Brittany, and particularly work relating to travel writing, antiquarianism or the French Revolution.

Ports, Past and Present

I am currently CAWCS institutional lead on a multi-partner project led by University College Cork and in collaboration with Aberystwyth University and Wexford County Council. This project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Ireland Wales Co-operation Programme.

It explores the history and heritage of five port towns around the Irish Sea – Dublin, Rosslare, Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock – and works with port communities to improve knowledge of and access to those stories. CAWCS has commissioned twelve artists and writers to help bring this heritage to life. See

Curious Travellers

Another strand of my current research focuses on travel writing, the Welsh Tour, and the writings of Thomas Pennant (1726–98). It derives from a major four-year project funded by the AHRC: ‘Curious Travellers: Thomas Pennant and the Welsh and Scottish Tour 1760–1820’.

This interdisciplinary project has produced online critical editions of previously unpublished letters and tours, and explores the period’s attitude to the British ‘peripheries’ through art, literature, history, antiquarianism and the natural sciences. See

Wales and the French Revolution

In 2009 I began a four-year AHRC-funded project on ‘Wales and the French Revolution’. The project grew out of frustration at the relative invisibility of Wales in current criticism, even in so-called ‘Four Nations’ writing.

With Dafydd Johnston, I am general editor of a series of ten volumes which bring together a range of responses to the turbulent 1790s in Welsh and English, including printed ballads, letters, newspaper articles, poetry, pamphlets and sermons.

My contribution to the series, co-edited with Paul Frame, is an edition of a letters written from revolutionary France by a Glamorgan-based scientist and Dissenting minister: Travels in Revolutionary France & A Journey Across America by George Cadogan Morgan and Richard Price Morgan (UWP, 2012).

Romantic Forgeries

Issues of authenticity and ownership, and the weight attached to such ‘national’ traditions, are central to my work on the poet, stonemason and ‘inventor of traditions’ Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg) 1747–1826.

My monograph, The Truth Against the World (UWP, 2007), compares Iolo’s work with that of other supposed literary ‘forgers’ of the period, James Macpherson, Thomas Chatterton and the Breton Hersart de La Villemarqué. I have also written on the Breton ballad tradition, and on La Villemarqué’s visit to Wales in 1838.

Creative writing

I have published two collections of short stories: The Breathing (Planet, 2008) and All the Souls (Seren, 2013). A novel, Star-Shot, came out with Seren in 2015.

Grants/scholarships awarded:

At Aberystwyth University

1994: Sir John Williams Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Aberystwyth University

1996: British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship

2000: Leverhulme Special Research Fellowship


2009: AHRC Major Research Grant (PI, ‘Wales and the French Revolution’)

2012: British Academy Small Grant

2014: AHRC Major Research Grant (PI, ‘Curious Travellers’)

2014: British Academy Early Career Event Grant

2018: Oxford Bodleian Visiting Scholar Fellowship

2019: Interreg Grant (Wales and Ireland) (Institutional PI, ‘Ports, Past and Present’)

2020: AHRC Networking Grant (Co-I, ‘IIIF for Research’)

Monographs, jointly authored books and edited volumes

Curious Travellers: Writing The Welsh Tour 1720–1820 (Oxford: OUP, forthcoming)

with Nigel Leask (eds.), Enlightenment Travel and British Identities: Thomas Pennant’s Tours in Scotland and Wales (London and New York: Anthem Press, 2017)

with Dafydd Johnston (eds.), ‘Footsteps of Liberty and Revolt’: Essays on Wales and the French Revolution (Cardiff: UWP, 2013)

The Truth Against the World: Iolo Morganwg and Romantic Forgery (Cardiff: UWP, 2007)

with Gerald Porter, Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song: From the Blues to the Baltic, British Academy Monographs Series (Oxford: OUP, 2003)

(ed.), Ballads in Wales / Baledi yng Nghymru (London: FLS Books, 1999)

‘ “Combustible Matter”: Iolo Morganwg and the Bristol Volcano (Aberystwyth: Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, 2003)

Breton Ballads (Aberystwyth: CMCS Publications, 1996) [winner of the Katharine Briggs Award for Folklore, 1996]

Scholarly editions

(ed.), Catherine Hutton’s Tours in Wales 1796, 1797, 1799, 1800, Curious Travellers editions (2020)

with Fañch Postic (eds. and trans.), ‘ “C’est mon Journal de Voyage”: Hersart de La Villemarqué’s Letters from Wales 1838–39’, with an Introduction by Mary-Ann Constantine (Brest: Université de Bretagne Ouest, 2019)

with Éva Guillorel (eds.), Miracles and Murders: An Introductory Anthology of Breton Ballads (Oxford: British Academy, 2017) 

with Paul Frame (eds.), George Cadogan Morgan and Richard Price Morgan: Travels in Revolutionary France & A Journey Across America (Cardiff: UWP, 2012)

Peer-reviewed articles and chapters in books

‘Consumed landscapes: coal, air and circulation in the writings of Catherine Hutton’, Romanticism, 22:2 (Summer 2021), 122–34, special issue on ‘Change of Air’, ed. Erin Lafford and Rhys Kaminski-Jones

with Finola O’Kane, ‘The Picturesque Tour in Wales and Ireland 1770–1830’, in Nigel Leask, John Bonehill and Anne Dulau Beveridge (eds.), Old Ways and New Roads: Travels in Scotland 1720–1832 (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2020), pp. 194–211

‘Celts and Romans on Tour: visions of early Britain in eighteenth-century travel literature’, in Francesca Kaminski-Jones and Rhys Kaminski-Jones (eds.), Celts, Romans, Britons:

Classical and Celtic Influence in the Construction of British Identities (Oxford: OUP, 2020), pp. 117–40

‘The possibilists: Romantic-era literary forgery and British alternative pasts’ in Damian Walford Davies (ed.), Counterfactual Romanticism (Manchester: Manchester University Press), pp. 79–106

‘Antiquarianism and Enlightenment in the eighteenth century’, in Geraint Evans and Helen Fulton (eds.), A History of Welsh Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), pp. 264–84

‘Wales and the West’, in David Duff (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism (Oxford: OUP, 2019), pp. 121–36

‘Napoleon in Swansea: reflections of the Hundred Days in the Welsh newspaper Seren Gomer’, in Katherine Astbery and Mark Philp (eds.), Napoleon’s Hundred Days and the Politics of Legitimacy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 233–53

‘Heart of darkness: Thomas Pennant and Roman Britain’, in Mary-Ann Constantine and Nigel Leask (eds.), Enlightenment Travel and British Identities: Thomas Pennant’s Tours in Scotland and Wales (London and New York: Anthem, 2017), pp. 65–84

‘ “The bounds of female reach”: Catherine Hutton’s fiction and her Tours in Wales’Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840, 22 (2017), 92–105, special issue on ‘Four Nations Fiction by Women, 1789–1830’, ed. Elizabeth Edwards

‘ “British Bards”: the concept of labouring class poetry in eighteenth-century Wales’, in John Goodridge and Bridget Keegan (eds.), A History of British Working Class Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 101–15

with Elizabeth Edwards, ‘Introduction/Rhagymadrodd’, Teithwyr Chwilfrydig: Symud, Tirlun, Celf / Curious Travellers: Movement, Landscape, Art, exhibition catalogue (Aberystwyth: Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, 2017), pp. 3–10

‘To trace thy country’s glories to their source”: dangerous history in Thomas Pennant’s Tour in Wales’, in Porscha Fermanis and John Regan (eds.), Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845 (Oxford: OUP, 2014), pp. 121–43

‘ “Impertinent structures”: a Breton’s adventures in neo-Gothic Wales’, Studies in Travel Writing, 18:2 (2014), 134–47

‘The Welsh in Revolutionary Paris’, in Mary-Ann Constantine and Dafydd Johnston (eds.), ‘Footsteps of Liberty and Revolt’: Essays on Wales and the French Revolution (Cardiff: UWP, 2013), pp. 69–91

with Elizabeth Edwards, ‘Bard of Liberty: Iolo Morganwg, Wales and radical song’, in Michael Brown, John Kirk and Andrew Noble (eds.), United Islands? The Languages of Resistance (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 63–76

‘Literature of the Bardic Revival: an annotated bibliography’, ‘Oxford Bibliographies’ website

‘Beauty spot, blind spot: Romantic Wales’, Literature Compass Online, 5, no. 3 (April 2008), 557–90 

Welsh literary history and the making of The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales’, in Dirk Van Hulle and Joep Leerssen (eds.), Editing the Nation’s Memory: Textual Scholarship and Nation-Building in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008), pp. 109–28

‘ “Viewing most things thro’ false mediums”: Iolo Morganwg (1747–1826) and English perceptions of Wales’, in Claire Lamont and Michael Rossington (eds.), Romanticism’s Debatable Lands (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), pp. 27–38

‘ “A subject of conversation”: Iolo Morganwg, Hannah More and Ann Yearsley’, in Damian Walford Davies and Lynda Pratt (eds.), Wales and the Romantic Imagination (Cardiff: UWP, 2007), pp. 65–85

‘Chasing fragments: Iolo, Ritson and Robin Hood’, in Sally Harper and Wyn Thomas (eds.), Bearers of Song: Essays in Honour of Phyllis Kinney and Meredydd Evans / Cynheiliaid y Gân: Ysgrifau i Anrhydeddu Phyllis Kinney a Meredydd Evans (Cardiff: UWP, 2007), pp. 51–7

‘ “This wildernessed business of publication”: the making of Poems, Lyric and Pastoral (1794)’, in Geraint H. Jenkins (ed.), Rattleskull Genius: The Many Faces of Iolo Morganwg (Cardiff: UWP, 2006), pp. 123–45

‘Celtic literatures’, in Peter France and Kenneth Haynes (eds.), The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, Volume 4 (1790–1900) (Oxford: OUP, 2006), pp. 294–307

‘Songs and stones: Iolo Morganwg (1747–1826), mason and bard’, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, 47, nos. 2/3 (Summer/Fall 2006), 233–51

‘Iolo Morganwg, Chatterton and Bristol’, in Alistair Heys (ed.), From Gothic to Romantic: Chatterton’s Bristol (Bristol: Redcliffe, 2005), pp. 104–15

‘Iolo Morganwg, Coleridge, and the Bristol Lectures, 1795’, Notes & Queries (March 2005), 42–4

with Jon Cannon, ‘A Welsh Bard in Wiltshire: Iolo Morganwg, Silbury and the Sarsens’, Wiltshire Studies, 97 (2004), 78–88

‘Neither flesh nor fowl: Merlin as bird-man in Breton folk tradition’, in Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan (ed.), Arthurian Literature, XXI: Celtic Arthurian Material (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2004), pp. 95–114

‘Saints behaving badly: sanctity and transgression in Breton popular tradition’, in Jane Cartwright (ed.), Celtic Hagiography and Saints’ Cults (Cardiff: UWP, 2003), pp. 198–215

‘The wreck of the Royal Charter: Welsh and English ballads’, in Mary-Ann Constantine (ed.), Ballads in Wales / Baledi yng Nghymru (London: FLS Books, 1999), pp. 65–85

‘Ballads crossing borders: La Villemarqué and the Breton Lenore’, Translation & Literature, 8, part 2 (1999), 197–216

‘Prophecy and pastiche in the Breton ballads: Groac’h Ahès and Gwenc’hlan’, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, 30 (Winter 1995), 87–121

Editorial roles

I serve on the editorial boards of the following journals: North American Journal of Celtic Studies, Welsh Writing in English, Enlightenment and Dissent, Planet: the Welsh Internationalist.

I am general editor (with Dafydd Johnston) of the ten volumes in the ‘Wales and the French Revolution’ series (University of Wales Press), and (with Nigel Leask) of the ‘Curious Travellers editions’.