Beyond the Pampas, an autobiographical account of a European’s journeys around Patagonia, has been released this week by Seren.
Its German author, Imogen Herrard, spent a year in Aberystwyth where she became intrigued about the descendants of the Welsh settlers in Patagonia. She has since travelled there several times in the last ten years.
The book also charts her discovery of the indigenous peoples of the region who have suffered greatly under past Argentinian authorities and still face hardships today.
Mick Felton, manager of Seren, says: “It’s also a personal journey going on because Herrard had a difficult childhood with her parents and has been looking for a new family since then. Meeting the communities in Argentina helped her to put her own issues in perspective.”
Imogen Herrard is launching her new book in Chapter Arts Centre on Friday 30 November at 7pm. The event is free of charge.
Welsh settlers in Patagonia:
The first group of settlers were a group of about 150 people from all over Wales. They sailed from Liverpool to Patagonia and arrived in New Bay (Port Madryn) on 28 July 1865. Over the next few years, groups of Welsh immigrants from Wales and North America made the journey to Patagonia. By 1876, the population numbered 690.
Migration continued over the period 1880-1887. Economic depression and insecurity in the Welsh coal mining industry caused another influx of emigrations in the period 1904-1912.
Today, the ties between Wales and Patagonia remain strong. More than 50,000 Patagonians claim Welsh descent, mainly clustered around the towns of Gaiman, Trelew and Trevelin. The number of Welsh speakers is rising.