Alexander Cordell

Alexander Cordell

Last updated: 19 November 2008

Alexander Cordell was the pen name of George Alexander Graber, an adoptive Welshman who was one of Wales' most prolific writers.

Cordell was born in Columbo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in September 1914.

As his father had done so before him, Cordell entered the army. He married Rosina Wells in 1937 and served with the Royal Engineers during World War Two, but was commissioned and retired from service as a Major. It was while convalescing from a wartime injury that he was sent to north Wales experiencing the country for the first time.

After leaving the army Cordell worked as a quantity surveyor for the War Office. His daughter Georgina was born in 1949, and in 1950 his debut story 'The Gentle Wife' appeared in print. During the same year Cordell moved with his family to Llanellen, Abergavenny, from Shrewsbury.

It was from here that his love for Wales began to grow. His first novel, A Thought of Honour, was published in 1954 and five years later perhaps his most famous work, Rape of the Fair Country (1959), set in Blaenafon, was published.

The second novel in what was to be a trilogy, Hosts of Rebecca (1960), followed a year later before the family spent a period of time living in Hong Kong. Cordell returned and lived in Milford Haven and Cheptow, producing the third novel of the trilogy Song of the Earth in 1969.

Rosina Cordell died in 1972, and a year later Cordell remarried Elsie May Donovan, known as Donnie. They lived in Bangor, and also the Isle of Man for a period, before settling in Railway Road, Rhosddu, Wrexham in the 1980s. Donnie died in 1995 at Wrexham Maelor Hospital aged 80, the pair having been married for 25 years.

Two years later Cordell died while walking at Llangollen's Horseshoe Pass, the inquest reporting the cause of death as heart enlargement and disease. Cordell is buried at Llanfoist, Abergavenny. He produced over 30 acclaimed works during his lifetime.

Following his death, Torfaen County Borough Council acquired his desk and typewriter, which are on display in the Blaenafon Community Heritage & Cordell Museum.

Selected bibliography:

  • Rape of the Fair Country (1959)
  • Hosts of Rebecca (1960)
  • Song of the Earth (1969)
  • This Sweet & Bitter Earth (1977)
  • Land of My Fathers (1983)

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