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Fundraiser launched to raise money for statue of ‘the most outstanding Welsh woman of 19th the century’

26 Mar 2021 2 minute read
Cranogwen. Picture by the National Library of Wales

A fundraiser has been launched to raise money for a statue of the trailblazing poet and journalist Sarah Jane Rees.

Now better known by her bardic name ‘Cranogwen’, she was referred to by Professor Deirdre Beddoe as “the most outstanding Welsh women of the nineteenth century”.

She was at various times during the 19th century a mariner, poet, teacher, journalist, preacher and political campaigner.

Growing up in Llangrannog, she began her career as a sailor on cargo ships for two years, sailing between Wales and France, before returning to London and Liverpool for study and becoming a teacher.

She then became the first ever women to win a poetry prize at the National Eisteddfod, in Aberystwyth in 1865.

Later she became editor of Y Frythones, the first editor of a Welsh magazine dedicated to women’s issues.

The fundraiser created this month has a target of £10,000 pounds and is organised by Anne-Marie Bollen, a resident of Llangrannog from where Cranogwen originated.


The fundraiser by Anne-Marie Bollen says: “We are a female project team from the communities of Llangrannog and Pontgarreg, west Wales.

“Our aim is to celebrate the ambition and success of our pioneering local heroine Cranogwen. The funds raised will provide a life-sized bronze statue to commemorate her life and achievements to inspire the next generation.”

The work is supported by Monumental Welsh Women who have set out to build five statues of Welsh women in Wales. There are currently no outdoor statues of Welsh women in Wales.

Cranogwen was one of five Welsh women who were part of a public vote to erect an as yet unbuilt statue of a Welsh woman in Central Square, Cardiff.

The competition was ultimately won by Betty Campbell, Wales’ first black headteacher who championed her nation’s multicultural heritage throughout her life.

As well as Betty Campbell and Cranogwen, Elizabeth Andrews, Elaine Morgan and Margaret Haig Thomas (Lady Rhondda) also made the shortlist.

Monumental Welsh Women has already received £100,000 towards the cost of the statues from Welsh Government but said that each statue would probably cost £75,000 to build.

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