20 October 1836 – 22 October 1895
Daniel Owen was a Welsh novelist, generally regarded as the foremost Welsh-language novelist of the 19th century.
Owen was born in Mold, Flintshire, into a working class family, his father, Robert Owen, being a coalminer. His father and two brothers James and Robert were killed on 10 May 1837 in a mining accident when the Argoed mine became flooded. The loss impacted heavily on the family who remained in poverty. Owen received no formal education, but he acknowledged his debt to his Sunday school.
At the age of 12, Owen was apprenticed to a tailor, Angel Jones, who was an elder with the Calvinistic Methodist. Owen described his apprenticeship as a ‘kind of college’, and began writing poetry after being influenced by one of his work colleagues. Owen used the tailor shop as an opportunity to discuss and argue topics with workers and customers, a theme that is evident in his novels. This style of education is recounted in his novel Rhys Lewis, experienced by the character Robyn y Sowldiwr.
Daniel Owen trained unsuccessfully for the ministry, preaching from 1860. He intended to enter the ministry as a Methodist preacher and enrolled in Bala Theological College in 1865, but failed to complete the course. From 1867 until 1876, he worked as a tailor in Mold, preaching on Sundays.
He is credited with starting the tradition of the Welsh language novel, Rhys Lewis often being credited as the first novel written in Welsh. He was an influence on many later novelists, such as Kate Roberts and T. Rowland Hughes. He is considered one of the greatest of Welsh language novelists.