Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. Volume 28. pp 80-93.
The paper considers the life and career of the prominent Welsh adult educator, civil servant, and cultural diplomat Sir Ben Bowen Thomas (1899-1977). He was born into a Christian Baptist family at Treorci, Ystrad Rhondda, Glamorgan, where his father Jonathan was a coal miner. His mother, Ann, was the sister of the poet Ben Bowen. After service in the Royal Navy, Thomas was educated at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Jesus College, Oxford. The paper also considers Thomas’ early support for Welsh nationalism, his contribution to adult education in inter-war Wales as the first Warden of Coleg Harlech. Thomas’ transition to the Civil Service during the Second World War is then considered, together with his post-war influence as Permanent Secretary, the Welsh Department, the Ministry of Education. Thomas’ parallel career as a cultural diplomat representing the United Kingdom at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is also considered. The paper concludes with an assessment of Ben Bowen Thomas’ contribution to Welsh society and internationally.