Born in Aberarth, a village on the Ceredigion coast, in 1934, he was a keen footballer in his youth – his passion for the game and for Arsenal, his favourite team, lasted throughout his lifetime. After graduating in Welsh from Aberystwyth University, he taught at Garw Grammar School in Bridgend, before being appointed lecturer at Swansea University. He met Aerona in Blaengarw whom he later married and they went on to have a son, Huw, (the television broadcaster) and a daughter, Meinir. In 1966, the family moved to Llangennech, a village located between Llanelli and Swansea, where he contributed significantly to his community by establishing a literary society in the village, serving as a school governor and an elder in the local Presbyterian chapel, and later becoming a Plaid Cymru Councillor for Dyfed County Council.
An expert on the life and culture of Wales during Victorian times, Hywel Teifi published his first book on the history of the National Eisteddfod, Yr Eisteddfod 1176–1976 (Gomer 1976), and Gwyl Gwalia: Yr Eisteddfod yn Oes Aur Victoria 1858–1868 (Gomer 1980) is considered to be his magnum opus.
Listen to Professor Hywel Teifi Edwards discussing the history of the Eisteddfod on the National Museum Wales website.
Further volumes on Welsh history and literature followed: Codi'r hen wlad yn ei hôl, 1850–1914 (Gomer 1989) and Eisteddfod Ffair y Byd, Chicago, 1893, (Gomer 1990). A scholar who’s roots were very much grounded in the south Wales valleys, he greatly respected those he met in the adult learning classes which he held all over the old coal mining areas, and he wrote a book on the image of the coal mines in Welsh prose and poetry between 1850 and 1950, Arwr Glew Erwau'r Glo (Gomer 1990). He edited 10 unique volumes of Cyfres y Cymoedd which focused on the history and literature of the valleys (Gomer 1993-2003); this was also an attempt to make up for the failure of conveying the experience of the industrial community within Welsh literature.
Video: An appraisal of Professor Hywel Teifi Edwards’ scholarly contribution is available in this lecture by Professor Geraint H. Jenkins.