Alexander Cordell

1914 - 1997 Novelist

Born George Alexander Graber into a military family stationed in Ceylon, Alexander followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Royal Engineers. In 1937 he married Rosina Wells. Wounded during World War II he was sent to Harlech, north Wales to convalesce. Having attained the rank of Major he left the Army to work as a quantity surveyor. It was at this time that he started writing. 'Every time Rosina needed a new coat I would sit down and write a short story', he is quoted as saying. In 1949 his daughter Georgina was born in Shrewsbury and in May 1950 his first story, 'The Gentle Wife', appeared in My Weekly. In the same year he accepted a posting to Abergavenny and moved to The Lodge, Llanellen.

His brother Frank, who was a sub editor on the Financial Times, undoubtedly offered advice as Alexander started work on his first novel. A Thought of Honour, for which he was paid £75, was accepted in 1954. Rape of the Fair Country, his best-known work was published in 1959.

The family moved to Holywell Crescent in Abergavenny, where Alexander was to write Hosts of Rebecca in 1960. After a period in Hong Kong, the family returned, living in Milford Haven, and then Tidenham, Chepstow, where Alexander finished the Welsh trilogy in 1969 with Song of the Earth. The Fire People was published in 1972, the same year in which Rosina died. In 1973 he married his second wife, Donnie.

Other books set in south Wales followed: Land of My Fathers, This Sweet & Bitter Earth, Beloved Exile and Land of Heart's Desire. After a brief exile on the Isle of Man, Cordell settled finally in Wrexham. He died while out walking near Llangollen in July 1997. He had written 30 books and his most famous work, Rape of the Fair Country,  had been translated into 17 different languages.


In 1985 local author Chris Barber published Cordell Country, a guide to locations featured in Rape of the Fair Country. A revised edition was published in 1996, Walks in Cordell Country. In 1998 Chris also secured the rights to reprint Cordell's best loved Welsh novels, Rape of the Fair Country, Song of the Earth, Hosts of Rebecca, This Proud and Savage Land and The Fire People which are available from Blorenge Books (01873 856114). Alexander Cordell,  the biography written after his death by his friends, Mike Buckingham and Richard Frame was published in 1999.

There is also a series of four Cordell Country trails available from local Tourist Information Centres to help you explore the locations featured in Alexander Cordell's novels covering the following areas:

Tour One: Around Blaenavon, Blaenau Gwent and Abergavenny - on the trail of Rape of the Fair Country.

Tour Two: Around the Vale of Neath and Aberdare - on the trail ofSong of the Earth.

Trail Three: Around the Rhondda and Aber valleys - on the trail of This Sweet & Bitter Earth.

Trail Four: Around Merthyr Tydfil - on the trail of The Fire People.

Leaflets can also be obtained by calling 01495 792615 or by visiting Cordell Country.