By Robert Titley, New York City, USA
“The Richard Burton Dairies” soon-to-be published by the Yale University Press (www.yalebooks.com), reveal much about the man behind the legend. Liz Smith calls them “Fun, fascinating and sad.” Publishers Weekly named the book an “Indie Sleeper.”
To mark the publication of the book, the Welsh Government in New York is organising celebratory events in New York and Los Angeles in conjunction with Swansea University and the Yale University Press.
Welsh screen icon Richard Burton would have turned 87 on November 10. It’s hard to imagine that vital, carousing, temperamental soul in mellow old age. Harder still to imagine the world-acclaimed actor as a family man worrying about his daughter’s wounded heart, as a thoughtful and voracious reader of all manner of subjects, and as an insecure man with ‘self-esteem issues,’ who, nonetheless, could paint vividly mocking pictures of several hallowed contemporary thespians whose work he found wanting. But this is the man that editor Chris Williams has uncovered…in his own words.
The Los Angeles book event on October 18 will be hosted at the residence of the British Consul-General, Dame Barbara Hay. Actors Kate Burton and Andrew Howard will read from the diaries. Other Welsh VIPs expected to attend include the rock star Jem, film composer Ceiri Torjussen and Caltech award-winning astronomer Richard Ellis.
In addition, the LA media, business clients – especially from the creative and advanced materials and manufacturing sectors – Swansea University alumni and academics, and tour operators, airlines, and travel agents have been invited.
The book’s editor, Chris Williams, will also be on hand. The Welsh historian tackled the 2-year editing project alongside his responsibilities as a professor of Welsh history at Swansea University.
“Many readers will be surprised how interested he was in books, in scholarship (and in) current and world affairs, which extended to the question of the environment. He had an enormous appetite for learning – a restlessness almost,” says Chris Williams.
Complementing the Yale University Press publication of ‘The Richard Burton Diaries’ is the airing, on November 25, of the Lifetime TV movie, “Liz and Dick,” starring Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler, scripted by Welsh director Chris Monger.
In addition, Burton has been honoured by a Wales-based initiative: the 3-mile Richard Burton Trail surrounded by the serene Welsh beauty of the Afan Forest Park, highlights Pontrhydyfen, the area in which he was born. A second trail is due to open in nearby Port Talbot, where he was raised, in November 2012. The official website, www.visitnpt.co.uk/richardburton features interviews with his friends and family who share their memories of Burton, as well as a downloadable Trail map and guide. Go to www.visitwales.com for info about everything Wales has to offer visitors.
The Welsh Government is the devolved administration responsible for governing Wales in the UK. The Welsh Government’s US office is in New York where a small but dedicated team is raising the profile of Wales in the USA in order to stimulate trade and investment, tourism, and academic and cultural links between Wales and America.