Evans was born on the 13th January 1887, and became the eldest of eleven children. Later that spring, the family moved to an isolated hill farm called Yr Ysgwrn near Trawsfynydd.
After leaving school at 14, Evans became a shepherd on his father's farm, but he always showed a natural gift for poetry, taking part in eisteddfodau.
The outbreak of the first world war had a profound effect on Ellis. His experiences fighting in the trenches inspired some of his most famous poems:
During March 1917, Hedd Wynn was granted leave to work on the family farm. During his spare time he worked on what came to be regarded as his masterpiece; Yr Arwr, or The Hero. Because the harvest was delayed, he stayed longer than was permitted. He had just finished his Yr Arwr when the military police came to fetch him, so his greatest work was left on the kitchen table. He wrote out another copy from memory on the train back to the front.
Sadly Hedd Wyn was killed shortly afterwards at the the battle of Passchendaele on the 31st of July 1917. However he posthumously won the prestigious Chair of the Bard at the National Eisteddfod during the following September. The chair was draped with a black cloth as a mark of respect, and became known as the Black Chair.