File NLW MS 23788E. - Brenda Chamberlain letters to Michael Reakes-Williams

Identity area

Reference code

NLW MS 23788E.


Brenda Chamberlain letters to Michael Reakes-Williams


  • 1949-1972 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

18 ff.

Guarded and filed at NLW.

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Writer and artist Brenda Chamberlain (1912-1971) was born and raised in Bangor, Caernarfonshire, and educated privately before embarking on her art studies at the Royal Academy, London in 1931. In 1935 Chamberlain married the artist John Petts. The following year the couple moved to Llanllechid, where they set up the Caseg Press, producing postcards and bookplates, and also the Caseg Broadsheets - featuring poetry by Chamberlain and others - with the poet and writer Alun Lewis. Chamberlain's marriage to Petts ended in 1946. Thereafter she lived briefly in Germany before settling on Bardsey Island, where she wrote and painted until, in 1961, she moved to the Greek island of Idhra. In 1967 Chamberlain returned to Bangor, where she died in 1971. Amongst Chamberlain's major published works are the poetic anthology The Green Heart (London, 1958) (dedicated to Karl von Laer), Tide-Race (London, 1962), an account of her life on Bardsey, her only novel The Water Castle (London, 1964), A Rope of Vines (London, 1965), chronicling her time on Ydra, Poems With Drawings (London, 1969), and Alun Lewis and the Making of the Caseg Broadsheets (London, 1969).

Name of creator

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator


Biographical history

Meic Stephens, poet and editor, was born in Trefforest and educated at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and the University of Rennes. From 1962 to 1966, he taught French in Ebbw Vale. He established The Triskel Press at Merthyr Tydfil, where he lived at the time, and also launched the periodical Poetry Wales, which he edited from 1965 until 1973; also served for a year on the staff of the Western Mail. In 1967, Stephens was appointed Literary Director with the Welsh Arts Council. He published his first poetic works in Triad (1963). His work Linguistic Minorities in Western Europe (Llandysul, 1976) involved a detailed study of culture and politics in sixteen European states. Amongst the works edited by Stephens are an anthology of Anglo-Welsh poetry titled The Lilting House (with John Stuart Williams, London and Llandybïe, 1969), Artists in Wales (three volumes, Llandysul, 1971, 1973, 1977), the Writers of Wales series (with R. Brinley Jones, 1970- ), the poetic anthology Green Horse (with Peter Finch, Swansea, 1978), and Cydymaith i Lenyddiaeth Cymru (Llandysul, 1986).

Archival history

Formerly in the possession of Mrs Jean Coundley, Watford, who donated them to the Department of Fine Art, National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff, in August 1999.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

National Museum & Gallery per Dr Mark L. Evans, Assistant Keeper (Fine Art); Cardiff; Donation; September 1999; A1999/104.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Six letters and cards, [c. 1950]-1971, from Brenda Chamberlain to the Rev. Michael Reakes-Williams, containing personal news (ff. 2-6, 10 verso-13); together with two to him from Alan Clodd of the Enitharmon Press, 1972 (ff. 15-16), and one each from Peter Jones and Meic Stephens of the Welsh Arts Council, 1972 (ff. 17-18), all concerning Chamberlain.
Included in the Chamberlain letters are ink sketches relating to a visit to Schleswig-Holstein, West Germany, in 1958 (f. 4 recto-verso), a typescript poem commissioned by the Welsh Arts Council, 1971 (ff. 12-13), and greetings cards designed by her (ff. 2-3, 5-6). Also included are a pen and ink sketch of a woman on horseback, [?1949], and a pen and watercolour drawing of a fish, 1949, both by Chamberlain (f. 1 recto-verso); a programme for a dance recital at the Lamda Theatre Club, [?1964] (ff. 7-10); and a copy letter, 16 January 1959, from Reakes-Williams to a Mrs Armstrong on behalf of Chamberlain (f. 14).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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 set out in information provided when applying for their Readers' Tickets, whereby the reader shall become responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 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 Brenda Chamberlain and Meic Stephens copyright can be found at (viewed December 2010).

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes


Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Folios 2-3 affected by damp with some loss of text.

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

See also NLW, Brenda Chamberlain manuscripts (NLW MSS 21484-525, 22493-4, 23381-2).
Exhibition catalogues and other printed material relating to the artist (now NLW ex 2019) and four books by Brenda Chamberlain were donated to NLW with this manuscript. Another copy of the dance recital programme (ff. 7-10) is in NLW MS 21525D.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents.


Preferred citation: NLW MS 23788E.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


Access points

Subject access points

Place 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

December 2010.


  • English



Archivist's note

Description revised by Rhys Morgan Jones.

Accession area