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Remembering history's 'lost' women

In a new series on S4C, Ffion Hague tells the story of women who have left their mark on Welsh history. Starting on Sunday, 8 January, the six-part series Mamwlad will look at the story of seven amazing women - Megan Lloyd George, Margaret and Gwendoline Davies, Kate Roberts, Lady Llanover, Cranogwen and Laura Ashley.

"The truth is that women's achievements have been neglected in our history books," says Ffion Hague. "On the whole, historians tend to focus on wars and kings, pushing to one side the story of our women."

Ffion and the production team - directors Llinos Wynne and Catrin Edwards, and editor Catrin Evans - aim to highlight these women's achievements by showing the obstacles they faced and the courage it took to challenge those around them. This was the guide for selecting the women to feature in the series.

In the first programme we hear the story of Megan Lloyd George who became the first female Member of Parliament from Wales when she won the Anglesey seat for the Liberal Democrats in 1929. Ffion Hague is an expert on David Lloyd George, but what does she hope to learn about his daughter?

"Her name is very familiar to us, of course, but mostly Megan is only discussed in the context of her father's life and career. Our interest in her is different," says Ffion, author of David Lloyd George's biography. "How did it feel to walk into Parliament as one of only 16 women, and the only girl from Wales? Did she open the door for other women? And did she ever manage to step out of her father's shadow?"

The producers were given permission to use home movies, made by members of Megan Lloyd George's family, which have never been shown publicly. The films, given by Megan's nephew Bengy Carey-Evans, are a living record of family life. They are now kept at the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales.

"I thought most of the film footage about the history of the family had been archived, so it was a very exciting moment when I was given the films," says Catrin Edwards, the producer of the programme. "I felt the weight of the responsibility to keep the films safe - so much so that I almost felt I should sleep with them under the pillow until I could transfer them safely to the archive in Aberystwyth!

"They're fascinating films which have been shot between the Twenties and Sixties of the last century - some show Megan as a young woman with her father, and others show her during middle age in her home in Cricieth with members of her family including her sister Lady Olwen Carey Evans and her nephew Bengy. It is an interesting and important personal archive."

In the second programme we hear the extraordinary story of two wealthy sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies. They used their money for the benefit of the arts in Wales rather than for themselves, and their collection of works by the great artists of their time is the basis of the National Museum of Wales's present collection.

In the rest of the series we hear the story of the writer Kate Roberts; Victorian language campaigner, Lady Llanover; the first woman to win the top prize for poetry at the National Eisteddfod, Cranogwen; and Wales's most successful business woman Laura Ashley.

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