Richard Burton’s elegy for Welsh coal miners

Richard Burton appeared on Dick Cavett’s show in 1980 and told the story about his family of Welsh coal miners.

Richard Burton, who was born in 1925, grew up in the village of Pontrhydyfen, Neath Port Talbot, Wales. He was the twelfth of thirteen children. The seven-time Academy Award nominee died in 1984.

Listen to his riveting history about those who loved the mines and what that work cost them:

It was during the depression, my father was a miner and all my brothers except my youngest brother were miners and they all got out of the mines except the very oldest one who loved the mines so much I couldn’t bribe him out.

There was no way I could get him out. And he stayed in until the bitter end so that he died—he died last year. And you can imagine how tough the constitution of the family is, that with his lungs full of dust he lived until he was 79 and he was very angry because he didn’t make 80. But to have lived that long . . . he went down to the mines when he was 13 years old, and he came up when he was 65.

Michael McCrae wrote this story. You can contact him at [email protected] or on twitter at @michaelmccrae.