On Sunday 4 May 1947, eleven people met in a small room in Cardiff Technical College. Without any protracted discussion, they decided to constitute themselves as Cardiff Writers’ Circle (CWC). They chose one of their number to chair the meeting, and another as secretary, to take notes, and then four manuscripts were read out and discussed—three short pieces of fiction and an article about Caxton and printing.
Seventy-five years later, the CWC still meets regularly. It is one of the longest-running Creative Writing groups in the UK, and the oldest such group in Wales—a status which implies that it must have got something right. Much has changed in its meetings: they have become more informal, more concentrated on fiction and poetry, and they make greater use of digital media. But many aspects of the Circle’s meetings and activities have not altered. This essay aims to identify the reasons why the CWC has lasted so long. I will not trace its activities year-by-year: the available evidence is pretty thin and a date-by-date narrative would lack sparkle. Instead, in approximate chronological order, I will focus on seven episodes or themes, sometimes deliberately choosing exceptional moments or people in order to illuminate the more general development of the Circle.
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