Fonds GB 0210 PETHEL - Peter Hellings Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Peter Hellings Papers


  • 1939-[2001] (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.229 cubic metres (8 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Peter Bernard Hellings, or Pete Hellings as he was popularly known, an Anglo-Welsh poet, was born in Swansea on 1 August 1921 to Frank and Dorothy Hellings and educated at the local Grammar School where he was taught by Dylan Thomas's father. He joined the RAF in 1941 and went to Africa and the Middle East between 1942 and 1946, having previously worked for the Harbour Office of the Great Western Railway. In 1941, he was awarded the BEM for gallantry and services as a firefighter during the German raids on Swansea in the blitz of February 1941. He married Madeline (Manon) Benoist in 1947.

Peter Hellings graduated with First Class Honours in 1950 from the University of Wales, Swansea, where he entered as a mature student and edited Dawn, the official publication of the Students' Union Council, University College, Swansea. He taught English in Birmingham from 1952 until his retirement in 1980 and moved to Coed-y-bryn, near Llandysul in 1985.

Four volumes of his poetry were published - Firework Music (London, 1950), A Swansea Sketchbook (Pontefract, 1983), A Form of Words (Pontefract, 1995) and Selected Poems Pete Hellings (Swansea, [2001]). Many of his poems appeared in literary magazines such as Wales, Dock Leaves, Life and Letters to-day, Welsh Review and The Anglo-Welsh Review. His first poem with the title 'Poem' was published in Life and Letters to-day, March 1940, when he was eighteen years old. In 1989, his sonnet 'Tree Fall' was awarded a prize in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. He was made a full member of the Welsh Academy for his contribution to the literature of Wales shortly before he died on 24 September 1994, and his ashes were scattered below the clifftop on Pennard, the Gower peninsula, where the memorial stone of Vernon Watkins stands.

Archival history

The papers of Peter Hellings passed to his widow, Manon Hellings, after his death in 1994.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Mrs Manon Hellings, Llandysul, widow of Peter Hellings, in June 2000 and October 2001, by Mr Brian Lewis, Pontefract, January 2004, and by Dr Eurwen Price, Swansea, February 2004.; A2000/36, 0200400158, 0200400831

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Literary papers, 1939-[2001], of the poet Peter Hellings, including drafts and fair copies of poems and translations from the French; together with letters to the poet and his wife Manon Hellings, 1939-2001. Among the most notable correspondents are Robert Herring, Keidrych Rhys, Stephen Spender and Vernon Watkins.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: All of the papers donated to NLW have been retained apart from a small number of duplicate copies..


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

The 2000 and 2001 donations were arranged at NLW into four series: personal letters, publications, translations from French, and miscellaneous papers. The 2004 donations were added to these existing series (see series level descriptions).

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 laws apply.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

English unless otherwise specified.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Finding aid available in hard copy at NLW.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Literary magazines and anthologies are also held at NLW and also photographs. Recordings of Peter Hellings reading his poetry and tributes to him after his death are in the National Screen and Sound Archive at NLW.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Some of the papers date from a period after the death of Peter Hellings in 1994 since Manon Hellings included letters sent to her; together with the volume Selected poems Pete Hellings published in [2001]. The title of every unit of description has been supplied from the contents. Original titles of files, where known, have been retained and are indicated by single quotation marks.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

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


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

November 2001 and May 2005.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Ann Francis Evans.

Archivist's note

The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: The Oxford Companion to the literature of Wales (Oxford, 1986); A Form of Words: an autobiography in verse (Pontefract, 1995); Selected poems Pete Hellings (Gwasg Llewitha, Swansea, [2001]); and documents contained within the Peter Hellings archive.

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