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RUCK, AMY ROBERTA (‘BERTA RUCK’) (1878-1978), nofelydd | Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig

RUCK, AMY ROBERTA (‘BERTA RUCK’) (1878-1978), nofelydd

Enw: Amy Roberta Ruck
Dyddiad geni: 1878
Dyddiad marw: 1978
Priod: George Oliver Onions
Plentyn: William Oliver
Plentyn: Arthur Oliver
Rhiant: Elizabeth Eleanor Ruck née 'Arcy
Rhiant: Arthur Ashley Ruck
Rhyw: Benyw
Galwedigaeth: nofelydd
Maes gweithgaredd: Llenyddiaeth ac Ysgrifennu
Awdur: Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan

Ganwyd Berta Ruck ar 2 Awst 1878 ym Murree, Punjab, yr India, yr hynaf o wyth o blant Arthur Ashley Ruck (1847-1939), swyddog yn y fyddin, a'i wraig, Elizabeth Eleanor (née D'Arcy, 1852-1928), aelod o deulu milwrol arall, ac o dras Gwyddelig a Ffranco-Normanaidd. Ganed pedair merch arall iddynt a thri mab, yn eu plith y cyfieithydd Richard Conyers Ruck (1887-1973). Trwy ei modryb, Amy, chwaer ei thad, perthynai Berta i'r teulu Darwin, a thrwy ei mam i'r teulu Sackville-West.

Yn ddwy flwydd oed, ac yn rhugl yn Hindustani a Saesneg, cafodd ei hanfon adref at ei nain ar ochr ei thad, Mary Ann Ruck (g. Matthews, 1822-1905), Cymraes Gymraeg a fu'n ddylanwad mawr ar Berta. Etifeddasai ystadau Esgair a Phantlludw, uwchben afon Ddyfi ym Meirionnydd ac roedd ganddi dŷ hefyd yn Aberdyfi. Un o Lanbryn-mair oedd ei mam hi, a fedrai olrhain ei thras hyd at y bardd Dafydd Llwyd o Fathafarn o'r bymthegfed ganrif ac at John Jones Maes-y-garnedd, Meirionnydd, yn yr ail ganrif ar bymtheg. Yn 1886, ar ôl cyfnod byr gyda'r Liverpool Volunteers, penodwyd Cyrnol Ruck yn Brif Gwnstabl Sir Gaernarfon ac fe ymgartrefodd y teulu yn Llwyn-y-brain, Llanrug. Addysgwyd Berta gartref i ddechrau, ond ar ôl tymor mewn ysgol breswyl yn yr Almaen fe'i hanfonwyd i ysgol St Winifred's, Bangor. Arlunio a'i swynodd ar y cychwyn, ac yn dilyn cyfnod fel au pair yn yr Almaen symudodd i Lundain i astudio yn ysgol gelf Lambeth cyn ennill ysgoloriaeth i'r Slade; symudodd ymlaen i academi Colarossi ym Mharis yn 1904. Eisoes dechreuasai gyfrannu darluniau i gylchgronau megis The Idler, gan ychwanegu at ei hincwm trwy waith cyfieithu Almaeneg-Saesneg. Darganfu'n fuan, fodd bynnag, fod ganddi ddawn am ysgrifennu ffuglen ac erbyn 1905 dechreuodd straeon byrion a chyfresi ganddi ymddangos yn Home Chat a chyfnodolion eraill.

Yn 1909 priododd y nofelydd George Oliver Onions (1873-1961), y cyfarfu ag ef gyntaf yn Llundain yn 1902; newidiodd ei gŵr ei enw i George Oliver yn 1918, rhag ofn i'w dau fab, Arthur (g. 1911) a William (‘Bill’, g. 1913), gael eu gwatwar. Yn ystod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf cafodd Berta Ruck lwyddiant sydyn fel awdur nofelau rhamantus ac o hynny ymlaen ei henillion hi fyddai prif incwm y teulu, wrth iddi gyhoeddi dros naw deg o nofelau, heb sôn am gyfresi, straeon byrion ac erthyglau dirifedi. Bu ei nofel gyntaf, His Official Fiancée (1914), a ymddangosodd yn wreiddiol fel stori-gyfres yn Home Chat, yn llwyddiant yn syth ac fe'i dilynwyd yn fuan gan nifer o nofelau â'r rhyfel yn gefndir iddynt. Ymddangosodd dwy nofel, The Lad with Wings, a dalai deyrnged i arloeswyr y Royal Flying Corps, a Khaki and Kisses yn 1915, a The Girls at his Billet yn 1916, pob un dan yr enw ‘Mrs Oliver Onions’. Y nofel gyntaf i'w chyhoeddi dan yr enw ‘Berta Ruck’ oedd Miss Million's Maid (1916). Deunydd darllen ysgafn, wleidyddol saff, i ddiddanu cynulleidfa cyfnod y rhyfel oedd y rhain. Daethai o hyd i'w fformiwla: stori garu'n adlewyrchu bywydau merched ifainc y dydd, wrth iddynt ymgymryd â swyddi a gweithgareddau newydd. Eisoes, hefyd, amlygwyd ymwybyddiaeth Gymreig gref yr awdur, oherwydd dewisai'n aml gynnwys Cymry - Cymry Cymraeg fel arfer - ymhlith ei chymeriadau, a lleoli rhai digwyddiadau yng Nghymru. Yn The Land Girl's Love-Story (1919), er enghraifft, ceir portread o Hilda Vaughan yn recriwtio merched i Fyddin y Tir, a Sir Frycheiniog yw cefndir rhan helaeth o'r nofel. Trwy gydol ei gyrfa fel awdur parhaodd Berta Ruck i ddarlunio, yn bennaf frasluniau o'i chymeriadau a dynnai yn ei llyfrau gwaith wrth amlinellu stori, ond hefyd ychwanegai ddarluniau neu gloriau arbennig pan gyflwynai gopïau o'u llyfrau'n anrhegion. Proffesiwn oedd ei gwaith ysgrifennu iddi, ac o fewn ei maes arbennig fe'i gwnaeth yn ardderchog heb ymhonni o gwbl. Ar wahân i'r nofelau, cyhoeddodd Ancestral Voices (1972), hanes teulu ei mam, a phedair cyfrol hunangofiannol. Y gyntaf ohonynt, A Storyteller tells the Truth (1935), yw'r gorau a'r mwyaf dadlennol, gan fod y cyfrolau diweddarach, A Smile for the Past (1959), A Trickle of Welsh Blood (1967) ac An Asset to Wales (1970) braidd yn sentimental ac yn tueddu i ailgylchu'r un straeon. Fel ei nain, teimlai'r un mor gartrefol mewn cylchoedd llenyddol a theatrig yn Llundain ag ym Meirionnydd gwledig, ac ysgrifennai gyda'r un cynhesrwydd am deuluoedd amaethyddol neu deithwyr ar fws yng nghefn gwlad Cymru ag y gwnâi am enwogion.

Ni fu priodi a chael plant yn rhwystr i'w bywyd annibynnol, a gyda'i meibion i ffwrdd mewn ysgolion preswyl treuliai gyfnodau hir oddi cartref, yn ymroi i ysgrifennu neu'n teithio tramor i ymchwilio ar gyfer cefndir ei nofelau. Rhoddai bwys mawr ar iechyd a rhyddid merched, fel y tystia ei harfer o nofio bob dydd yn yr awyr agored, ei diddordeb yn y mudiad i ddiwygio gwisg, a'i chefnogaeth i Marie Stopes, y bu'n gohebu â hi am addysg rhyw ac atalgenhedlu. Cafodd hithau berthynas gyda dyn ifanc o Awstria rhwng y ddau ryfel, a bu'n gefn i ffrindiau â bywyd preifat anghonfensiynol, fel Rebecca West a Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies.

Mwynhâi Berta Ruck gwmni cyfeillion o'r ddau ryw, ond ei ffrindiau benywaidd oedd yn hollbwysig iddi. Yn eu plith gellir enwi'r awduron Muriel Ménie Dowie, un o ‘Ferched Newydd’ troad y ganrif, Vicki Baum o Awstria, ac yn arbennig Alice Williams (‘Alys Meirion’), a ddaeth o gefndir tebyg o fân foneddigion Meirionnydd, ac a welai'n rheolaidd yn Llundain yn y Forum Club i ferched. Er na fuasai byth yn galw ei hun yn genedlaetholwraig, ymfalchïai Berta Ruck yn ei Chymreictod. Er nad oedd hi mor rhugl yn y Gymraeg ag yn yr Almaeneg a'r Ffrangeg, medrai ei deall a'i darllen a chynnal sgwrs syml. Cadwai olwg frwd ar faterion cyfoes Cymru ac yn 1937, pan fu Saunders Lewis, Lewis Valentine a D. J. Williams yn sefyll eu prawf yn yr Old Bailey yn achos llosgi Penyberth, plagiodd ei chefnder, y barnwr Richard Atkin, er mwyn gael mynediad i'r llys. Cymerodd nodiadau a thynnu lluniau o'r diffynyddion, ac anfon adroddiad bywiog at ei thad.

Yn Llundain neu'r cyffiniau y bu Berta Ruck yn byw yn bennaf tan 1939, ond ar gychwyn yr Ail Ryfel Byd symudodd hi a'i gŵr i Aberdyfi. Yn ystod y rhyfel ymrôdd i waith gwirfoddol a siarad cyhoeddus, ac yn ddiweddarach bu'n darlledu'n achlysurol gyda'r BBC yng Nghymru. Parhaodd yn sionc iawn, gan ddal i nofio yn yr awyr agored yn ei hwythdegau, ac roedd hi'n tynnu am ei naw deg pan gyhoeddwyd ei nofel olaf, Shopping for a Husband (1967). Bu farw yn ei chartref, Bryn Tegwel, Aberdyfi, ar 11 Awst 1978, naw diwrnod ar ôl dathlu ei chanfed penblwydd.

Awdur

Dyddiad cyhoeddi: 2015

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