Fonds GB 0210 JOHNNA - John Legonna Papers

Identity area

Reference code



John Legonna Papers


  • 1928-1978 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.155 cubic metres (1 large box; 15 small boxes)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

John Legonna (1918-1978), farmer, Welsh and Celtic nationalist, and conscientious objector, was of Welsh and Cornish parentage. His family came to Cardiganshire in 1939, and Legonna was educated at Coleg Harlech, the University College of Swansea and Exeter College, Oxford, where he studied law. He married Catherine Irene Thomas and settled in Cardiganshire, farming at Penrhos Fawr and Penlan Mabws, Llanrhystud, and at Ffynnon Gloch and Penparc, Llannarth, resisting conscription into the armed forces because of his nationalist beliefs. He spent much of his life involved in the politics and culture of Wales and the Celtic countries, notably as a founder of the New Nation Group and its magazine, Cilmeri. A selection of his autobiographical essays was published as 'Celtic Odyssey' in 2001. Legonna was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1974, and after an increasingly frustrating struggle with the condition he took his own life with characteristic defiance in 1978.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Bequeathed by John Legonna and received in July 1987 per his brother, Dr N F Brooks, Sherborne, Dorset

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers of John Legonna, including correspondence with Per Denez, Alan Heusaff, Goulven Pennaod (George Pinault), Harri Webb and others; diaries; poetry; prose; autobiographical notes and personal reflections; farming records; college notes on Welsh and Irish history and law; material relating to Legonna's political views and his activities with Welsh and Celtic nationalist organisations, especially Mudiad Gweriniaethol Cymru (Welsh Republican Movement), the Welsh National Party, and the New Nation Movement and its journal, 'Cilmeri'; printed and cyclostyled ephemera; personal and family records; miscellaneous printed material relating to Christopher Murray Grieve, 'Hugh MacDiarmid'; programmes for local eisteddfodau at Llannon and Llanrhystud; and typescript drafts of unpublished plays.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: All records donated to the National Library of Wales have been retained.


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged into three groups: 1987 Bequest; 1989 Donation; and 2011 Donation.

Conditions of access and use area

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 regulations apply

Language of material

  • Breton
  • English
  • French
  • Scottish Gaelic
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English and Welsh, with a few in Breton, Cornish, French and Scots Gaelic.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A hard copy of the first part of the catalogue is available in Minor Lists and Summaries 1988, pp. 30-35, at the National Library of Wales. The catalogue can be accessed online.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Publication note

A collection of John Legonna's autobiographical short stories, taken from papers in this archive, was published as 'Celtic odyssey' (Gwasg y Dref Wen : Cardiff, 2001).

Notes area


Title supplied from contents.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Project identifier


Access points

Place 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 ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.;AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

January 2004 and February 2015.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Seri Crawley for the ANW Project, with additions by David Moore. The following sources were consulted in the compilation of this description: NLW, Minor Lists and Summaries, 1988; NLW, W. W. Price Biographical Index (unpublished), Vol. XX; Stephens, Meic, The Oxford Companion to the Literature of Wales (Oxford, 1986); papers within the archive;

Accession area