- 1940-1971 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
i, 68 ff. ; c. 320 x 200 mm.
Guarded and filed at NLW.
Name of creator
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 Fusiliers 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.
Name of creator
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Mr T. F. Burns; London; Purchase; 1982.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Twenty-three letters, 1940-1971, from David Jones, artist and writer, to his friend T. F. (Tom) Burns, nineteen of which date from the period 1940-1944 and form a valuable source for the life and work of the writer during the war years. The principal subjects discussed in the others are the history of Wales, the early history of the compass, Malory's Morte Arthur and the writer's experiences in the First World War. Twelve of these letters were printed, wholly or in part, by René Hague in Dai Greatcoat: A self-portrait of David Jones in his Letters (London, 1980).
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
Action: digitized. Action identifier: cymruww1. Date: 2013. Authorization: The Welsh experience of World War One, 1914-1918.
System of arrangement
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.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
The contents are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 8 (Aberystwyth, 1999).
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
For photocopies of the letters see NLW Facs 392.
Related units of description
René Hague, Dai Greatcoat: A Self-portrait of David Jones in his Letters (London, 1980).
Title based on contents.
Preferred citation: NLW MS 21797E.
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
Place access points
Genre access points
Description control area
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