Diary launch to offer a glimpse of Richard Burton's life
WELSH stars will be coming out to celebrate a unique insight into the life of Hollywood legend Richard Burton.
Swansea University professor Chris Williams has edited The Richard Burton Diaries and is flying out to the USA tonight to promote the book in the States.
He was due to promote the book in The Times Cheltenham Literary Festival today, when he was to appear in conversation with Burton's actor friend Robert Hardy and the Pontrhydyfen-born star's niece Rhiannon James Trowell.
"We fly out to New York tonight then we will spend Monday to Wednesday doing various interviews," said Professor Williams, who spent four years painstakingly editing more than 450,000 of Burton's words.
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"On Tuesday night we will have the launch of the Richard Burton Diaries at the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts in Manhattan.
"We will have the actor Matthew Rhys there, as well as Iris Williams and a harpist. There will be readings too.
"The evening is not just about celebrating the diaries but also as a way of engaging with people who are interested in Wales, and raising the profile of Wales and the university."
Professor Williams, who will be accompanied in the USA by university vice-chancellor Professor Richard B Davies, then flies to Los Angeles on Thursday for a second launch, this one in the British Consulate-General.
It will be similar to the New York event, with Welsh actors Ioan Grufudd and Andrew Howard.
"Richard's daughter Kate will be there," said Professor Williams. "It will be great to see her again as she has been very helpful and supportive of the project all the way through."
However, Swansea University's links with the USA go beyond the Burton diaries.
It collaborates with several US institutions in nanohealth, while US scholars of residence have taught at Swansea.
Student exchange schemes have twinned Swansea with more than 20 partner institutions in the USA, including California State University, University of Illinois, and Louisiana State University.
Also, Swansea's American Studies department offers expertise on the USA, and its excellent sources on the US Civil War prompted a visit by Manchester United manager and American history buff Sir Alex Ferguson
Vice-chancellor Professor Davies, who will be meeting research councils and senior figures from American, universities said those links were important.
"Active international links are critical in making Swansea the strong research-intensive university it is and creating the outstanding career and life-enhancing opportunities enjoyed by our students.
"Since its foundation in 1920, Swansea University has embraced opportunities to think globally while remaining true to its regional roots.
"The university is internationally active, attracting students and staff from more than 100 countries, with approximately 30 per cent of new staff recruited over the past five years from outside the UK.
"Hundreds of Swansea students already spend part of their course studying somewhere else in the world and this is a hugely maturing experience greatly valued by employers. We want to grow these numbers further.
"We shall be using this opportunity to make sure Swansea is in the spotlight in the USA."