North Wales is steeped in myths and legends but it is also surprising how many incredibly famous characters and people are from here. I am not talking a fifteen minute celeb here, I’m talking world famous, household names that have stood the test of time and known the world over. Do you have a few minutes spare? Let us introduce you to some famous characters from North Wales…
Lawrence of Arabia
Probably better known these days because Peter O’Toole played him in the Hollywood film depicting his life events. T E Lawrence AKA Lawrence of Arabia was born and raised in Tremadog, the small village on the outskirts of Porthmadog, North Wales. Lawrence led the successful Arab revolt in WW1 against the ottoman Empire. He was subsequently named ‘Al Aurus’ (the mystical one) by the Arabic nations and heralded as a hero.
Move over Christopher Columbus, is it Prince Madog who is said to have found the New World in 1170…. that is 300 years before Columbus. There has been talk of it being a mere folklore tale of a young prince and his sea voyage. However, there is credence to the claim as in the Elizabethan times, Prince Madog was documented in England’s bid where they claimed to having discovered the America’s first…
Most of us are acquainted with the film The Golden Compass. Created from Northern Lights, the first book in Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials. He lived in Pentre Gwynfryn, a little hamlet to the north of Llanbedr, North Wales, just by the Nantcol waterfalls and… he was in the same class at my mum at Ysgol Ardudwy!
Alice In Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland is said to be inspired by the antics of Alice Liddle whilst she was on holiday in Llandudno. The Liddles, great friends of Lewis Carroll, had a holiday home in Llandudno called Penmorfa where they spent most of their holidays and where Lewis Carroll was a regular visitor. There are references to the town in some of the stories. Most notably, the two rocks from West Shore Bay, nicknamed the Walrus and the Carpenter.
The main love interest in Out of Africa, Denys Finch-Hatton grew up, believe it or not, in Harlech, North Wales. The Plas, now a restaurant in the centre of Harlech used to be ‘the house’ of the town and the Finch-Hatton’s lived there. Denys spent his earlier years here before going to school in Eton and then onto British East Africa. There he invested in land and became a big game hunter where he took the very wealthy on game hunts.
Rupert The Bear
Whilst Rupert was not ‘conceived’ in North Wales, he certainly spent most of his life here… well, his main illustrator of 40 years, Alfred Bestall did. In his heyday and for the most part of his life, Rupert has been drawn in amongst the forests and rivers of Beddgelert. This is where Bestall took much of his inspiration for the character when he was his illustrator as he had a house in Beddgelert of which can be seen today.
To explore more of North Wales history take a look here.