Professor Gwendolen Rees, or Gwen as she prefers to be known, was educated at the Intermediate School for Girls, Aberdare, between 1918 and 1924. Aberdare, a valley community in South Wales was, in the nineteenth century, world-famous as a centre for the Welsh iron and coal industry. Unlike its neighbouring town, Merthyr, however, it was not totally dominated by industry and it is especially renowned for its spacious and beautiful park near the town centre. During Gwen's early life, Aberdare was one of the largest and most influential centres of literary culture in Wales, and a place where education was of prime importance in the community. As far back as 1867, Aberdare men and women had claimed that ‘what we think today, Wales will think tomorrow’. Could these be the reasons why Aberdare has produced so many distinguished academics? None, however, has achieved greater distinction than Gwendolen Rees who, in 1971, became the first woman academic in Wales to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Since she has often been affectionately referred to as ‘one in a million’ by her former students, the metaphor assumed literal significance in 1971, when the female population of Wales was 1446000. Because of a phenomenal life-long dedication to her chosen career as university teacher, researcher and administrator, together with a genuine lack of desire for personal acclaim, there may have been many people who had never heard of her until 1971.