File NLW MS 23539E - Miscellaneous papers

Identity area

Reference code

NLW MS 23539E


Miscellaneous papers


  • 1935-1983 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

62 ff.

Guarded and filed at NLW.

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

The Rev. Islwyn Jenkins (1912-1992), researched the history and culture of the Rhymney Valley, Caerphilly, Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, and published Beyond the Black Tips, co-written with his wife, Dr Jean Jenkins, in 1990. They, and Dr Eben Morris, also accumulated material concerning the poet Idris Davies (1905-1953), from Rhymney, Monmouthshire.

Name of creator

Name of creator


Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Vernon Watkins (1906-1967), poet, was the second of three children of William and Sarah Watkins. He was born in Maesteg, Glamorgan, on 27 June 1906 but grew up in Swansea, Glamorgan, and on the Gower. He attended Repton School, Derbyshire, 1920-1924, then (for one year) studied modern languages at Magdalene College, Cambridge. He was briefly a clerk at Lloyds Bank in Cardiff but after a breakdown he returned home to Swansea and moved to the Lloyds Bank branch in St Helens. He served with RAF Police and Intelligence, 1941-1946, but otherwise remained with Lloyds for the remainder of his working life. In 1941 he published his first collection of poems, Ballad of the Mari Lwyd (London, 1941), followed by The Lamp and the Veil (London, 1945), Selected Poems (Norfolk, Conn., 1948), The Lady with the Unicorn (London, 1948), The Death Bell (London, 1954), Cypress and Acacia (London, 1959), Affinities (London, 1962), and Fidelities (London, 1968) which appeared posthumously. As a poet he was scrupulous, working through numerous drafts to reach a final version and often undertaking further revision after publication. In addition to original poetry he translated European verse into English, including Heine's The North Sea (London, 1955), and wrote essays on other poets. He corresponded widely with literary figures and became friends with the likes of W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Philip Larkin and, in particular, Dylan Thomas. In 1944 he married Gwendoline (Gwen) Mary Davies (b. 1923), a colleague at RAF Intelligence, and they had five children. Following his retirement in 1966 he lectured at the University College of Swansea. He was then appointed Visiting Professor of Poetry at the University of Washington but died on 8 October 1967, shortly after arriving in Seattle to take up his post. Some of his previously unpublished and uncollected works appeared in Uncollected Poems (London, 1969), Selected Verse Translations, ed. by Ruth Pryor (London, 1977), The Breaking of the Wave (Ipswich, 1979), and Ballad of the Outer Dark, ed. by Ruth Pryor (London, 1979).

Archival history

Donated with the papers of the Rev. Islwyn Jenkins - see the NLW typescript volume Minor Lists and Summaries 1996.

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

Miscellaneous papers of, or relating to, Idris Davies. They include a draft poem, [c. 1945], by Idris Davies; comments by him, dated November 1936, on A. E. Housman, More Poems (London, 1936); and a typescript radio talk, entitled 'The valleys revisited', broadcast 1943. Also included is a postcard from Idris Davies, 1935, two letters to him, 1952 and 1956, and twenty-six letters relating to him, 1954-1983, addressed to the Rev. Islwyn Jenkins, Carmarthen, and including letters from T. S. Eliot, 1955 (f. 23), Glyn Jones, 1954-1968 (ff. 30-33 verso), and Vernon Watkins, 1956 (f. 50).

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Language of material

  • English

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Publication note

For 'The valleys revisited' see Planet, 74 (1989), pp. 20-3.

Notes area


Title based on contents.


Preferred citation: NLW MS 23539E.

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Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

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  • English



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  • Text: NLW MS 23539E.