National Library of Wales

David Jones (Artist and Writer) Papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 DJONES

Held at:

Title: David Jones (Artist and Writer) Papers

Short title: Jones, David, papers

Dates of creation: 1821, 1853-1981 (predominantly 1930-1980)

Level of description: Fonds

Extent and medium: 0.934 cubic metres (83 boxes, 2 outsize vols)

Name of creator(s): David Jones (1895-1974)


Administrative and biographical history: David Jones (1895-1974) was an accomplished artist who produced watercolours, illustrations and inscriptions, and who also gained acclaim as a poet, especially as the author of In Parenthesis in 1937, and the long prose poem The Anathemata in 1952. David Walter Jones was born in Brockley, Kent, on 1 November 1895. His mother, Alice Ann née Bradshaw, was from London, and his father, James Jones, was originally from Holywell, Flintshire. He attended the Camberwell School of Art from 1910-1914, and the Westminster School of Art from 1919-1921. He joined the London Welsh Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fuseliers in 1915 and served as a private with them until 1918. This experience had a profound effect on him, and his first book, In Parenthesis (1937), is an epic war poem which deals with the period he spent in France. In 1921 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, adopting Michael as a middle name. This was a defining moment in his life and work. In the same year he met Eric Gill and joined Gill's community at Ditchling, Sussex, where he learnt wood-engraving. In 1924 he became engaged to Petra Gill and often visited the family at Capel y ffin, near Abergavenny. His engagement with Petra was broken off in 1927 and subsequently he never married. Between 1928 and 1932 he moved around a great deal, producing watercolours and also writing. In 1933 he suffered a breakdown in health and endured repeated periods of ill-health from then onwards. He virtually stopped painting until 1937. In 1937 Faber published In Parenthesis, which T. S. Eliot regarded as 'a work of genius'. He was awarded the Hawthornden prize for it in 1938. He was based at the parental home at Brockley until his mother's death in 1937. He then lived in Notting Hill, and from about 1946 lived in Harrow on the Hill. In 1970 he fell ill after breaking a bone in his hip and resided at Calvary Nursing Home, Harrow until his death in 1974. A volume of essays Epoch and Artist was published by Faber in 1959, followed by The Fatigue (1965), The Tribune's Visitations (1969) and The Introduction to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1972). The Sleeping Lord (1974) and The Roman Quarry (1981) were published posthumously. In 1955 he was awarded the CBE, and also the Harriet Monroe memorial prize. In 1960 he was awarded the degree of D. Litt from The University of Wales and became both Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1961. He was awarded the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales Gold medal in 1964 and the Welsh Arts Council Literature Prize in 1969.


Scope and content: Literary manuscripts of David Jones, with manuscript drafts of In Parenthesis: seinnyessit e gledyf ym penn mameu; The anathemata: fragments of an attempted writing; Epoch and Artist: selected writings by David Jones; The Sleeping Lord and other fagments; The Dying Gaul and other writings, and The Roman quarry and other sequences. There is a substantial body of letters to David Jones from friends, editors and others, 1910-1976; draft letters from David Jones to friends, newspaper editors and others, 1929-1982; and letters by David Jones, 1919-1985, published in Dai Greatcoat: a self-portrait of David Jones in his letters. There are some examples of David Jones' art, and material relating to David Jones as an artist, as well as personal documents, financial papers, family papers, photographs, and accumulated research material.


Language/script: English

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW into five groups: literary manuscripts, 1927-1981, correspondence, 1910-1985, material relating to his artistic works, 1821, 1900-1970, personalia, 1853-1976, and accumulated papers, 1892-1974.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply. Permission to copy or to publish material written or produced by David Jones must be obtained from the trustees of his esate c/o A. J. Hyne (see the WATCH file (Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders) .

Finding aids: The full catalogue is available online on the National Library of Wales website,
Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All material except for displaced empty envelopes have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history: Most of the papers came to the Library directly from the Trustees of the estate. Part of the collection had already been sorted, arranged and briefly listed by Harman Grisewood before the collection came to the National Library of Wales. A group of papers was previously deposited at Cambridge University Library by the Trustees of David Jones in 1982, and was purchased by the National Library of Wales in 1985.

Immediate source of acquisition: Acquired in four groups : August 1978 purchase; August 1978 deposit (subsequently purchased in 1985); and two further groups purchased in 1985. For futher details see Annual Reports 1978-79, pp.62 and 79-80; 1985-86, p. 60. (Acquisition numbers 1979/131, 1979/154, 1985/36, 1986/070.) Also, an additional file (see LA4/4) donated August 2007


Related units of description: Letters from David Jones to various people are in the NLW MSS collection, including 23 letters to Tom Burns (21797E), 6 to Colin Hughes (21830E), 7 to Elwyn Evans (21907E), 10 to Will and Sebastian Carter (21925-6E, 21927D), 17 to Kathleen Raine (21962E), 2 to Myra Owen (22003D), 33 to Douglas Cleverdon (22101E), 11 to Maurice Percival and 3 to Mrs R. H. Cobb (22243E), 3 to Rachel Bromwich (22274E), 29 to Petra Tegetmeier (22336E), 53 to Saunders Lewis (22724E), 7 to John Petts (23208D), 20 to Nancy K. Sandars (23238E), 9 to Philip Hagreen (23431E), 5 to Mildred Mary Ede (23537E), 10 to Richard Shirley Smith and Juliet Wood (23541E), and others. Also NLW Facsimilies 369 - 2 letters from David Jones to Dr. Charles-Edwards, and NLW Facsimilies 143 and NLW 21482D - 12 letters from David Jones to Arthur Giardelli. There are various letters from David Jones in NLW MSS 19754E, 21482D and 21818D. There are also letters from David Jones in the papers of the following held at NLW : René Hague, W. Emlyn Davies, Alun Oldfield-Davies, George Ewart Evans, Glyn Jones, Prof. Gwyn Jones, Ffransis G. Payne, Ceri and Frances Richards Papers and Poetry Wales Archive. Many letters from David Jones to his friends have been published e.g. to Vernon Watkins, Wiliam Hayward, René Hague, Aneirin Talfan Davies, Desmond Chute. NLW MS 16556D is a questionnaire completed by David Jones and NLW MS 22431D contains radio adaptions of his work. Approximately 110 photographs of friends, family and places have been transferred to the NLW collection of photographs, Llyfr Ffoto 4302. Two albums of family photographs are in Llyfrau Ffoto 25A-26B. David Jones's Library was acquired by NLW in 1975. The NLW holds some works of art by David Jones including 'Tir y Blaenau', 'Capel-y-ffin', 'Llys Ceimiad: La Bassée Front 1916', 'Beird Byt Barnant', 'Cloelia Cornelia', 'Cara Walia Derelicta', 'Pwy Yw'r Gŵr' and 'Optima Musa Veritas'. Recordings of BBC radio programmes about David Jones, a tape of an interview 'David Jones: artist and writer', and a broadcast of In Parenthesis are available at the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. David Jones' letters and manuscripts are also held in other repositories, e.g. Exeter University Library, Tate Gallery Archive, Kettle's Yard Gallery, National Sound Archive, Georgetown University Library (Harman Grisewood Papers), Yale University (Agenda Records), and at the University of Toronto Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. See also Location Register of 20th-century English literary manuscripts and letters (published 1988 and also available on-line), and 'A list of letters by David Jones made by Tony Stoneburner', Limekiln Press, 1977.


Publication note: Thomas Dilworth, The Shape of Meaning in the Poetry of David Jones (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1988.); John Mathias (ed.), David Jones: Man and Poet (Orono : University of Maine, 1989); Jonathan Miles and Derek Shiel, David Jones: The Maker Unmade (Bridgend, 1995). The letters of David Jones were published in Dai Greatcoat : a self-portrait of David Jones in his letters (London, 1980).

Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds. The papers pre-date the life of David Jones.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Nia Mai Daniel, National Library of Wales.

Rules or conventions: This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.

Date(s) of description: June 2008



Artists | Wales

Catholics | Great Britain

English literature | 20th century

English literature | Welsh authors

Poets, English

Personal names

Hague, René

Jones, David, 1895-1974

Corporate names