Cliff Cottage

This cottage has a fascinating literary history. It has been in the Morgan family since c.1850 and belonged to current resident James Morgan's great-great-grandmother Eva Campbell who married Hugh Vaughan of Builth. It was left to her daughter Elizabeth, sister of the feminist writer Hilda Vaughan (1892-1985), wife of novelist and playwright Charles Langbridge Morgan (1894-1958).

Charles was Drama Critic for The Times in the 1920s and 30s and contributed articles on British Theatre for the New York Times. He wrote 11 novels and 3 plays, and The Flashing Stream (1938) had successful runs in London and Paris. The French in particular admired his writings and he was awarded the French Legion d'honneur in 1936, and elected a member of the Institut de France in 1949.

Hilda Vaughan, a descendant of the 17th-century poet Henry Vaughan, wrote 10 novels mainly set in her native Radnorshire and concerning rural communities and heroines. Acclaimed early on, she was 'rediscovered' in the 1980s when Anglo-Welsh writing was re-analysed. Her first novel, in 1925, The Battle to the Weak, was favourably reviewed.

The Western Mail said it was 'Wales depicted truly at last', and her 1932 novel, The Soldier and the Gentlewoman was adapted into a play which ran at London's Vaudeville Theatre.

Edward and Hilda's son, Roger Morgan CBE, became the House of Lords librarian, who modernised the library, and his son, Jamie, lives in Cliff Cottage today. Jamie has a BMW motorbike which is decades old, and on its birthday he pours a glass of Penderyn Whisky into the tank.

Elizabeth (Miss) Vaughan loved kids. The love of her life died in WW1 and she never married. She used to have Easter Egg hunts for kids in her garden. When she died the house was left to American relatives, but her nephew, Roger Morgan, bought it off them as he loved the place so much and remembered his parents Hilda and Charles bringing him here.

Kingsley Amis was a good friend of Roger Morgan, as was the actress Angharad Rees. Both Hilda and Charles would write at Cliff Cottage during their visits. Elizabeth Vaughan occasionally babysat for Dylan's children as she felt sorry for them being left in the house every night whilst their parents went to the pub. In 1949 the children were aged ten, six and one.

Kingsley Amis (1922-1995) wrote much of the Booker prize winning novel The Old Devils (above) here. He had little time for Dylan, but was friendly with Swansea solicitor Stuart Thomas who led the Dylan Thomas Trust, of which Amis became a trustee. In his book, the town of Birdarthur is clearly Laugharne - it features a poet's grave, a convivial bar and 'Brydan's Walk'. The book generally is a satire about Dylan, the trust and 'professional Welshmen' and stands up today.

Just after the pic below was taken at the Cliff Cottage gate on the 20th August 1995, Kingsley Amis went another two steps, broke his hip, and never recovered, dying a couple of months later.

The gate today

Laugharne is for dreamers and in Dylan's Quite Early One Morning a character has been 'dreaming of reading Charles Morgan'. Here's a 1932 portrait by Edward Burra of four critics, with Charles Morgan on the right.

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