Oh, What a Lovely Century – Roderic Fenwick Owen

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 Rhag ofn tyfu lan fel ei Wncwl Dick anystwmyth, goroesodd Roderic Fenwick Owen (1921-2011) Eton, Rhydychen a’r Ail Ryfel Byd, i ddod yn awdur teithio yn brofi rhyfeddodau yr ugeinfed ganrif. Yn aml yn rhan o ddigwyddiadau hanesyddol (fel Yr Almaen Natsïaidd yn 1939 a’r Pentagon yn Y Rhyfel Oer) roedd ei fywyd yn cynnwys cast serol o gymeriadau, o Eisenhower i Christopher Lee.

Wrth galon ysgrifennu Roddy roedd chwilio am gariad, hyd yn oed os am noson yn unig. Syrthiodd am a phriododd tywysoges Polynesaidd yn Tahiti, ond ar daith ddisglair i Efrog Newydd, sylweddolodd roedd e wedi’i denu mwy at ddynion na merched, a fe’i gorgofwyd i barhau dan fygythiad o berygl. Roedd hyn ar adeg pan oedd yr heddlu’n erlyn ac yn carcharu mwy o ddynion hoyw nag erioed o’r blaen, gan gynnwys rhai o’i ffrindiau. Mae Oh, What a Lovely Century yn gofiant hynod bersonol ac yn ysgrif goffa ryfeddol o fyd sy’n newid yn barhaus ac sydd bellach wedi’i golli.


For fear of growing up like his stiff-upper-lipped Uncle Dick, Roderic Fenwick Owen (1921-2011) survived Eton, Oxford and the Second World War to become a travel writer, experiencing the varied wonders of the 20th century’s people and places in that guise. Frequently finding himself party to crucial historical events (including experiencing Nazi Germany in 1939 and the Pentagon during the Cold War Years), his life featured a stellar cast of characters from Eisenhower and Jackson Pollock to Christopher Lee and Sean Connery.

At the heart of Roddy’s writing adventures lay his search for love, even if just for the night. He fell head over heels for, and married a Polynesian princess while beachcombing in Tahiti, but when a dazzling trip to 1950s New York opened his eyes to the fact he was more attracted to men than women, he was forced to continue his quest for his soulmate under threat of danger. This was at a time when the police were prosecuting and imprisoning more gay men than ever before, including some of his friends. Lyrical, witty and at times jaw-droppingly unbelievable, Oh, What A Lovely Century is both a highly personal memoir and a marvellous obituary of an ever-changing and now lost world – that was frequently the best of times, and sometimes the worst.

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