“I have been a wanderer all my life”: Exile and Homecoming in the Writing of Thomas Richards (1800-1877)

Rita Singer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Thomas Richards (1800-1877), a surgeon and journalist originally from Dolgellau, is regarded as a seminal contributor to the emergence of the Australian short story, following his emigration in 1832. However, Richards not only produced a considerable number of short stories set in Tasmania, but also deserves recognition as one of the first Welsh writers in English to fictionalise Merionethshire, his childhood home. Prior to his emigration, Richards had already published extensively in British literary journals, albeit anonymously or pseudonymously. Much of this writing has only recently been identified as his work. Despite having lived in England since the age of nine, his Welsh stories are written from the point of view of an informed insider or a long-time Welsh expatriate. In revisiting his favourite childhood haunts in the semi-autobiographical, incomplete novella ‘Timothy Tempelton’ and his short story ‘The Wanderer’s Return’, Richards transcends the geographical limitations of home. These stories best illustrate the long-lasting emotional turmoil of losing one’s homeland through external circumstances. Be it the relocation to an English boarding school following the death of a parent or the impossibility of returning home as an adult due to economic pressures, the sense of loss, not just of part of one’s identity, but also of familial, social and cultural ties, leaves its indelible mark on the involuntarily exiled. Focusing primarily on the autobiographical elements in ‘Timothy Templeton’ and ‘The Wanderer Returns’, this paper argues that writing helped Thomas Richards come to terms with his prolonged exile. In his stories and novels, Richards recreated his childhood Merioneth as a fictionalised home to which he could return at will thanks to the powers of his literary imagination.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventHome/Cartref: The Thirtieth Annual Conference of the Association for Welsh Writing in English - Gregynog Hall, Newtown, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Duration: 11 May 201813 May 2018


Abbreviated titleAWWE18
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Period11 May 201813 May 2018
Internet address


  • Welsh writing in English
  • Literature
  • short stories
  • novella
  • National identity
  • New Zealand
  • diaspora
  • exile


Dive into the research topics of '“I have been a wanderer all my life”: Exile and Homecoming in the Writing of Thomas Richards (1800-1877)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Introduction

    Singer, R. & Richards, T., 2017, Rob the Red-Hand and Other Stories of Welsh Society and Scenery. Singer, R. (ed.). Aberystwyth: Llyfrau Cantre'r Gwaelod, p. vii-xlii 36 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

Cite this