Llewellyn was born Vivian Lloyd of Welsh parents in Hendon, Middlesex, in 1906. Only after his death was it discovered that his claim that he was born in St Davids, West Wales, was false.
He lived a peripatetic life, travelling widely throughout his life. Before World War II, he spent periods working in hotels, wrote a play, worked as a coal miner and produced his best-known novel. During World War II, he rose to the rank of Captain in the Welsh Guards. Following the war, he worked as a journalist, covering the Nuremberg Trials, and then as a screenwriter for MGM. Late in his life, he lived in Eilat, Israel.
Llewellyn married twice: his first wife was Nona Sonstenby, whom he married in 1952 and divorced in 1968, and his second wife was Susan Heimann, whom he married in 1974.
Richard Llewellyn died in Dublin on 30 November 1983.
Several of his novels dealt with a Welsh theme, the best-known being How Green Was My Valley (1939), which won international acclaim and was made into a classic Hollywood film. It immortalised the way of life of the South Wales Valleys coal mining communities, where Llewellyn spent a small amount of time with his grandfather. Three sequels followed.
Llewellyn's novels often included the recurring element of protagonists who assume new identities (as they are transplanted into foreign cultures), such as the character Edmund Trothe whose adventures extend through several spy adventure books.
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