A gripping and believable historical novel, based on a true story. Elin Ifans is frustrated by the limitations rural life imposes on a young girl in a far-flung district of mid-19th century north Wales. The late and unexpected child of older parents, she is indulged by her brother, the sea captain Emaniwel, but resented by her bad-tempered sister with her sense of superiority and thwarted aspirations to a more genteel existence. Her life circumscribed by her gender and social class in a society dominated by puritanical religion and the cult of respectability, Elin indulges in small, secret acts of rebellion, but when she rips the skirts of unsuspecting neighbours returning from chapel, pretends to learn magic from a book of spells and keeps a tame leveret in her pocket, she unwittingly unleashes a dramatic series of events which quickly spiral out if control. Soon the the story of an evil spirit taking occupation of the house plunges the whole community into mass hysteria, and will radically affect the family’s life for years to come. In forensically clear-sighted but deeply sympathetic portraits, Pantywennol lays bare the mental and emotional consequences for individuals struggling to move beyond the allotted boundaries of their lives. In this quirky first novel, inspired by historical events, Ruth Richards emerges as an exciting and accomplished new writer


  • 'From the very beginning, I became infatuated with this novel.  In truth, I fell in love. There is more than a gripping story to be found here, the writing is also truly powerful.

    Dafydd Morgan Lewis

  • 'This skillful novel's strength is the way it combines a vivid historical portrait of society and a profound physiological study that remains relevant today, more's the pity.'

    Jane Aaron, O'r Pedwar Gwynt

  • 'The author is master at creating a nail-bitting conclusion to nearly every chapter.  With every new revelation, the reader will be unable to put the book down, in order to see what happens next - there is also a purposeful eagerness to the razor sharp writing.'

    Aled Islwyn, Barn

  • 'While Pantywennol may be set in the ninteenth century, this is a modern novel, that deals with themes that still cause concern today.'

    ‘I rarely re-read books... But after I finished reading Pantywennol, I re-started it instantly.’

    Bethan Mair, O'r Pedwar Gwynt

Ruth Richards


Read about the author...

Publication details:

Y Lolfa (2016)


Translation rights:

Garmon Gruffudd
Y Lolfa, Talybont
Ceredigion, Wales / UK