Tom Macdonald (writer)

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Tom Macdonald
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Thomas Macdonald

22 November 1900
Died9 February 1980(1980-02-09) (aged 79)
'Y Nyth', Capel Bangor, Dyfed, Wales
Nationality Welsh
EducationRhydypennau Board School and Ardwyn Grammar School
Alma mater University College of Wales, Aberystwyth
Occupation journalist and novelist
Spouse(s)Minnie Eileen Dainow (1904–1996)
ChildrenMichael Macdonald (adopted, died in infancy); Gillian Macdonald (adopted) and Robin Macdonald (adopted)
Parent(s)John Macdonald (1860–1938) and Ada Jones (1878–1946)

Tom Macdonald (1900–1980) was a Welsh journalist and novelist, whose most significant publication was his highly evocative account of growing up in the north of Cardiganshire (now Ceredigion) in the years before the Great War, which was published in 1975 as The White Lanes of Summer. [1]

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Ceredigion County

Ceredigion is a county in Wales, known prior to 1974 as Cardiganshire. During the second half of the first millennium Ceredigion was a minor kingdom. It has been administered as a county since 1282. Welsh is spoken by more than half the population. Ceredigion is considered to be a centre of Welsh culture. The county is mainly rural with over 50 miles (80 km) of coastline and a mountainous hinterland. The numerous sandy beaches, together with the long-distance Ceredigion Coast Path provide excellent views of Cardigan Bay.



Thomas Macdonald was born on 22 November 1900 at Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn in Cardiganshire, the son of John Macdonald (1860–1938), a tinker of Irish descent, and his second wife Ada Jones (1878–1946). He spent his early childhood in a small cottage in the village, before moving with his family first to Pen-y-garn and then going on to live in nearby Bow Street. According to his father the family name was actually MacDonnell, but had been inadvertently changed to Macdonald by the local registrar of births and deaths.

Llandre village in Wales

Llandre, or Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn, is a village in Ceredigion, Wales. It lies 5 miles north of Aberystwyth in the north-west of the county, on the road from Rhydypennau to Borth. To the north lies the village of Dôl-y-bont. The community is called Geneu'r Glyn.

Pen-y-garn, Ceredigion village in United Kingdom

Pen-y-garn is a small village in the Tirymynach district of Ceredigion, Wales, approximately 4 miles (6 km) north-east of Aberystwyth. Along with the hamlet of Rhydypennau, Pen-y-garn is now often considered to be part of the neighbouring larger village of Bow Street. All three places stretch in a long narrow strip along the main Aberystwyth to Machynlleth road (A487). As well as the houses on the main road from Cross Street up to Ysgol Rhydypennau, Pen-y-garn also includes the housing estates of Maes Ceiro, Bryn Meillion, Maes y Garn and Cae'r Odyn.

Bow Street, Ceredigion village in Wales

Bow Street is a large village in the Tirymynach district of Ceredigion, Wales, approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north-east of Aberystwyth. As well as Bow Street itself, it is now often considered to include the neighbouring smaller village of Pen-y-garn and the hamlet of Rhydypennau. All three places stretch in a long narrow strip along the main Aberystwyth to Machynlleth road, the (A487).

Although his background was Catholic, he was deeply influenced by the Welsh Calvinistic Methodism of the community in which he lived.

Tom Macdonald was initially educated at Rhydypennau Board School and then at Ardwyn Grammar School in Aberystwyth, before going on to study at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. [2] , but, before he could graduate, his mentor died. He then embarked on a forty-year career as a newspaper journalist, first at the Cambrian News, Aberystwyth, then the Western Mail and the Daily Express. He later worked in China and Australia, before returning to Wales during the Great Depression. In 1939, he and wife, Eileen, travelled to South Africa where he eventually became chief reporter and news editor at The Sunday Times in Johannesburg, South Africa because childhood illnesses prevented him from joining up to take part in the Second World War.

Aberystwyth town in Ceredigion, Wales

Aberystwyth is an ancient market town, administrative centre, community, and holiday resort in Ceredigion, Wales. It is located near the confluence of the Ystwyth and the Afon Rheidol.

<i>Cambrian News</i> weekly newspaper

The Cambrian News is a weekly newspaper distributed in Wales. It was founded in 1860 and is based in Cefn Llan Science Park, Aberystwyth. Cambrian News Ltd was bought by media entrepreneur Sir Ray Tindle in 1998.

<i>Daily Express</i> Daily middle-market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom

The Daily Express is a daily national middle-market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. It is the flagship of Express Newspapers, a subsidiary of Northern & Shell. It was first published as a broadsheet in 1900 by Sir Arthur Pearson. Its sister paper, the Sunday Express, was launched in 1918. In February 2019, it had an average daily circulation of 315,142.

Tom Macdonald’s first book was entitled Henry and Songs of Nature (1920), and was written in memory of his younger brother who died aged seven in 1913. He later went on to publish six novels in English: Gareth the Ploughman (1939), The Peak (1941), Gate of Gold (1946), The Black Rabbit (1948), How Soon Hath Time (1950), and The Song of the Valley (1951) all set in Wales; together with two works dealing with South African current affairs and recent history: Ouma Smuts: The First Lady of South Africa (1946), Jan Hofmeyr: Heir to Smuts (1948), and The Transvaal Story, the last a compilation of articles written about his travels around the province and characters he had met (1961). He also wrote a number of short stories, which were published in several English language magazines, especially in Argosy. [3]

Argosy, later titled The Argosy and Argosy All-Story Weekly, was an American pulp magazine from 1882 through 1978, published by Frank Munsey. It is the first American pulp magazine. The magazine began as a children's weekly story–paper entitled The Golden Argosy. In the era before the Second World War, Argosy was regarded as one of the "Big Four" pulp magazines, - the most prestigious publications in the pulp market, that many pulp magazine writers aspired to publish in. John Clute, discussing the American pulp magazines in the first two decades of the twentieth century, has described The Argosy and its companion All-Story as "the most important pulps of their era."

His memoirs, written over a number of years whilst in South Africa, were first published in a Welsh translation with the title Y Tincer Tlawd (1971), before being finally published in English as The White Lanes of Summer (1975). He later claimed that this was “nearer to my heart than anything I have written”. He went on to publish two other non-fiction works, one in English: Where Silver Salmon Leap (1976), and the other translated into Welsh: Gwanwyn Serch (1982), which contained more memories of his childhood and was a sequel to Y Tincer Tlawd. A further novel was published in Welsh with the title Y Nos Na Fu (1974), whilst his first English novel was also translated into Welsh as Croesi’r Bryniau (1980).

In 1962, Tom Macdonald initially retired to the South Coast [Natal, South Africa], but spurred by ill health and hiraeth (nostalgia - Welsh), finally returned to Bow Street, Ceredigion in 1965, briefly living at Plas Cwmcynfelyn before settling at ‘Y Nyth’ in Capel Bangor. He died at his home on 9 February 1980 aged 79 years.

Capel Bangor is a small village in Ceredigion, in Wales. Its population is around 600-1000, and it is also approximately five miles from the seaside and university town of Aberystwyth.

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Ceredigion (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

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  1. Stephens, Mike (ed.), The New Companion to the Literature of Wales (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1998), p. 474
  2. ‘Tom Macdonald’, The Tincer, Rhif 26, Chwefror 1980, p. 1.
  3. ‘Tom Macdonald’, The Tincer, Rhif 26, Chwefror 1980, p. 1.


Macdonald, Tom (1975). The White Lanes of Summer. Macmillan, London. ISBN   0-333-17975-7

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