Fonds GB 0210 ALEWIS - Alun Lewis papers

Identity area

Reference code



Alun Lewis papers


  • 1919-1996 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.161 cubic metres (7 boxes and 1 volume)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Alun Lewis (1915-1944) was a poet and short-story writer. He was born on 1 July 1915 in Cwmaman, Aberdare, the eldest of three sons and a daughter born to Thomas John Lewis, a schoolmaster and his wife Gwladys Lewis. He received his education at Glynhafod Elementary School, 1920-1926, and afterwards he attended Cowbridge Grammar School, 1926-1932, after winning a scholarship. He won scholarships both to Jesus College, Oxford, and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, but chose the latter. He graduated in history in 1935 with first class honours and while at the University he worked on its magazine where he also published his first poems and stories. From Aberystwyth he moved to Manchester University, 1935-1937, where he researched for his masters degree in medieval history before returning to Aberystwyth to follow a teacher training course. He taught history at Lewis Pengam School from 1938 until he joined the Royal Engineers in May 1940.
He married Gweno Ellis of Aberystwyth on 5 July 1941 and was posted to the 6th Battalion South Wales Borderers at Woodbridge in Suffolk in the same year. His first volume of poetry Raiders' Dawn was published in 1942. A volume of short stories The Last Inspection was also published in that year. In the winter of 1942 the battalion was shipped to India. He died in Burma on 5 March 1944 and was buried in Taukyan War Cemetery.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

MSS 1-115: Mrs Gweno M. Lewis, Alun Lewis's widow; Donation; June 1988; A1988/59.
File /1: Mrs Gweno M. Lewis, per Mrs Mary Davies, Aberystwyth; Donation; December 2003; 0200313586.
File /2: Mrs Gweno M. Lewis; Donation; June 2006.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers of Alun Lewis, 1919-1996, including family correspondence and letters from Robert Graves; autograph and typescript copies of published and unpublished poems; typescript copies of published and unpublished prose; personalia; an unpublished autobiographical novella of college life; memorial tributes to Alun Lewis in poetry form; and notebooks containing poetry and other writings by him.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

All papers donated to NLW have been retained.


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

The papers donated in 1988 have been arranged into eleven groups: poetry, prose, worksheets, the Caseg Broadsheets, correspondence, personalia, periodicals, articles, scripts, newspaper cuttings and miscellaneous papers. The 2003 and 2006 donations have been arranged as 2 files.

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 set out in information provided when applying for their Readers' Tickets, whereby the reader shall become responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 in relation to any processing by them of personal data obtained from modern records held at the Library.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply. Information regarding the ownership of Alun Lewis copyright can be found at (viewed July 2022).

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Hard copies of the lists describing the papers donated in 1988 and 2003 are available at NLW.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

See also NLW MSS 20782E (drafts of sections III and IV of 'Indian Day' published in Ha! Ha! among the Trumpets: Poems in Transit (London, 1945)), 20798C (twenty-eight letters from Lewis to Brenda Chamberlain, 1941-1944), 21177C (a holograph early unpublished 24-line poem beginning 'It seemed to me Truth lay at rest'), 23208E (fifteen letters from Lewis to John Petts) and 24178E (manuscripts collected by Jeff Towns); NLW ex 2161 (letters, 1938-1944, from Lewis to Richard (Dick) Mills) and NLW ex ex 3053-3056 (items collected by Jeff Towns). His script 'Our Grandparents at School', broadcast 4 December 1938, is in the BBC Archive; and an engraving of Alun Lewis by John Petts is in NLW, Special Collections. Printed books from the library of Alun and Gweno Lewis are in NLW printed books collection.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents of fonds.


Papers accumulated by his widow Gweno Lewis postdate Alun Lewis's death.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

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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

January 2005


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Gwladys E. Lewis, Alun Lewis: My Son (Aberystwyth, 1968); Dictionary of National Biography on CD-ROM; Poetry Wales, 10.3 (1974 - Alun Lewis Special Number); and Welsh Biography Online website, 4 January 2005.

Archivist's note

Compiled by Ann Francis Evans.

Accession area

Related people and organizations

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Physical storage

  • Text: Alun Lewis Papers.