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The Carmarthenshire Historian


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Penurious Authors' Benefactor

The reception attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Stationers' Hall in March 1968 to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the granting of a Charter to the Royal Literary Fund was a reminder that the founder of the Fund was educated at the Carmarthen Dissenting Academy in the middle of the eighteenth century.

David Williams (17381816), a Glamorgan man, first proposed the idea of a benevolent society for distressed men of letters in 1773, but it was not until 1790 that the Literary Fund Society was founded after the failure of earlier attempts, during which he had canvassed Benjamin Franklin, Josiah Wedgewood, Adam Smith, Charles James Fox and Edmund Burke.

Williams, who abandoned the ministry after adopting advanced theological views, became a pamphleteer, founder of debating clubs in London and the instigator of philosophical and philanthropic ideas, in the advancement of which he made contact with many of his famous contemporaries. Before his death the Fund was firmly established and received the support of many distinguished people. From 1804 onwards the Prince of Wales was a generous patron and in 1818 acceded to a grant of a Royal Charter.

During its history the Fund has received the support of most of the literary giants and many others have been among its beneficiaries.
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