Fonds GB 0210 MSBREAIN - Brenda Chamberlain manuscripts

Identity area

Reference code



Brenda Chamberlain manuscripts


  • [c. 1928]-1971 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

46 volumes.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Writer and artist Brenda Chamberlain (1912-1971) was born and raised in Bangor, Caernarfonshire, and educated privately before embarking on her art studies at the Royal Academy, London in 1931. In 1935 Chamberlain married the artist John Petts. The following year the couple moved to Llanllechid, where they set up the Caseg Press, producing postcards and bookplates, and also the Caseg Broadsheets - featuring poetry by Chamberlain and others - with the poet and writer Alun Lewis. Chamberlain's marriage to Petts ended in 1946. Thereafter she lived briefly in Germany before settling on Bardsey Island, where she wrote and painted until, in 1961, she moved to the Greek island of Idhra. In 1967 Chamberlain returned to Bangor, where she died in 1971. Amongst Chamberlain's major published works are the poetic anthology The Green Heart (London, 1958) (dedicated to Karl von Laer), Tide-Race (London, 1962), an account of her life on Bardsey, her only novel The Water Castle (London, 1964), A Rope of Vines (London, 1965), chronicling her time on Ydra, Poems With Drawings (London, 1969), and Alun Lewis and the Making of the Caseg Broadsheets (London, 1969).

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

NLW MSS 21484-9, 21491-508, 21510-18, 21520-23, 21525D: Brenda Chamberlain estate; Purchase; 1972.

NLW MSS 21490E, 21509C, 21519C, 21524E: Mrs Brinley Rees [i.e. Joan Rees]; Bangor; Donation; 1973.

NLW MSS 22493-22494: Anonymous; Donation; 1973 and kept under seal, at the donor's request, until 1985.

NLW MS 23381D: Mr Alan Clodd; London; Purchase (with NLW ex 1665); 1995.

NLW MS 23382E: Mrs Gweno M. Lewis, widow of Alun Lewis; Aberystwyth; Donation; 1995.

Uncatalogued papers (4 large boxes):; Mrs Joan Rees; Bangor; Donation; June 2001.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Manuscripts, 1934-1971, of the artist and writer Brenda Chamberlain, including drafts of various poems and poetry collections, 1941-[1960s]; drafts of the novel The Water-Castle (London, 1964), [1953x1962], and the memoirs Tide-race (London, 1962), [1962], and A Rope of Vines (London, 1965), 1964-[1965]; other prose fiction, [1940s]-[1960s]; plays, 1956-[c. 1968]; film scripts, [1969x1971]; other miscellaneous prose, [1945]-[?1970]; original journals, [1951]-1966; sketches and studies in various media, [1930s]-1965; correspondence, 1952-1971; and printed matter, 1950-1968.

Papers, [c. 1928]-1970, of Brenda Chamberlain comprising correspondence, notebooks and diaries, sketch books, broadsheets, some printed material, woodcuts, sketches, slides and photographs. The collection includes a few letters sent by her mother to her father, Tom Chamberlain; and drafts of works and a notebook belonging to Peter Petts. These papers (4 large boxes, donated by Mrs Joan Rees, Bangor, June 2001) remain uncatalogued.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 21484-525, 22493-4, 23381-2.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their Readers' Tickets.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply. Information regarding the ownership of Brenda Chamberlain copyright can be found at (viewed October 2014).

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

NLW MSS 21484-525 described in the NLW typescript list Brenda Chamberlain Manuscripts (1973).

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Further manuscripts of Brenda Chamberlain are NLW MSS 20798-9, 20809E, 23788E, 24065E and the currently uncatalogued NLW MS 18969E, and NLW ex 1665, 2436, 2735. See also NLW, John Petts Manuscripts, especially NLW MSS 23207F, 24000F, which contain letters, 1934-1968, to Petts from Chamberlain; and NLW, Gwyn Jones 72/17-107.

Notes area


Title based on contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

April 2009.


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volumes VIII and IX (Aberystwyth, 1999, 2003); Archives Network Wales online (viewed 9 April 2009).

Archivist's note

Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS.

Accession area

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