Roger Boore obituary

Other lives: Welsh-language publisher and author who founded the Welsh publishing house Dref Wen

My friend, Roger Boore, who has died aged 82, was a Welsh-language publisher and author. He will be remembered for his dedication to the Welsh language and its propagation, particularly among children. A chartered accountant, returning to his native Cardiff in the late 1960s, and with a growing family to educate, he noticed how few children’s picture books were available in the Welsh language. The result was the creation of the publishing house Dref Wen.

He exploited the possibility of co-productions with European publishers to produce the very best available, including Welsh versions of Tomi Ungerer, Philippe Fix, Maurice Sendak and Astrid Lindgren. He himself translated several Asterix and Tintin titles. Other projects included Llyfr Hwiangerddi y Dref Wen (the standard Welsh nursery rhyme collection), and Y Geiriadur Lliwgar (the Welsh children’s picture dictionary).

Roger was passionate about the Welsh language and learned it as a teenager. In 1997 he was awarded the Mary Vaughan Jones award for his outstanding contribution to children’s books in Wales. He was inducted into the Gorsedd y Beirdd, a society of Welsh-language poets, musicians and others who have contributed to the language and to public life in Wales, in 2016, again for his services to publishing.

Roger won the short-story competition in the 1971 National Eisteddfod of Wales and the Prose medal at the 1972 Pantyfedwen Eisteddfod. He wrote a collection of short stories, a children’s novel and a groundbreaking series of five travel books.

Born in Cardiff, Roger was one of three children of Walter Boore, a partner in a sanitary brass factory in Birmingham, and later a novelist, and Bronwen (nee Davies), also a writer. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Leamington Spa. Roger attended Warwick school, and won a major open scholarship in classics to Jesus College, Oxford, where he met Anne Caswell; they married in 1964. In 2005 he was awarded a PhD in history from the University of Wales.

A consummate linguist, Roger was fluent in French and Spanish, and reading classics was something he pursued till the end of his life. Mildly contrarian, he had a wry sense of humour of rare subtlety; one that might occasionally be peppered by quotes from Suetonius or Cicero. He was an extraordinarily cerebral person, unassuming and kind. He loved travel, books, digging in his garden and, most of all, his family. His annual highlight was playing beach cricket with them in Pembrokeshire.

Roger is survived by Anne, their sons Gwilym, Rhys and Alun, seven grandchildren and his sisters Jennifer and Bronwen.

Kevin Cox

The GuardianTramp

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