Gwyneth Lewis is bilingual in Welsh and English and after being recognised as a poet in English whilst she was studying at Oxford in the early 1980s published a Welsh collection, Sonedau Redsa a Cherddi Eraill (1990) before her English debut Parables & Faxes (Bloodaxe Books, 1995). Her early poem sequence ‘Welsh Espionage’ was notable for sustaining its conceit of Welshness as a concept to be smuggled through the lines of the dominant English culture over many formal stanzas, inspired by Auden’s early spy-in-the-northern-landscape poems.
Gwyneth Lewis was made National Poet of Wales in 2005, the first writer to be given the Welsh laureateship. She published six books of poetry in Welsh and English, followed by Chaotic Angels (Bloodaxe Books, 2005) which brings together the poems from her three English collections, Parables & Faxes (1995), Zero Gravity (1998) and Keeping Mum (2003). Her modern epic A Hospital Odyssey (Bloodaxe, 2010) and later collection Sparrow Tree (2011) are published separately.
Her first non-fiction book, Sunbathing in the Rain: A Cheerful Book on Depression (Flamingo, 2002) was shortlisted for the Mind Book of the Year. Her second, Two in a Boat: A Martial Voyage (Fourth Estate, 2005), recounts a voyage which she made with her husband on a small boat from Cardiff to North Africa.
She studied at Girton College. Cambridge, and received a D.Phil in English from Oxford for a thesis on 18th-century literary forgery. After working for many years a documentary producer and director at BBC Wales, she become a freelance writer. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a member of the Welsh Academi and a NESTA Fellow. She lives in Cardiff.