- 1821, 1853-1981 (predominantly 1930-1980) (Creation)
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David Walter Jones was born in Brockley, Kent, on 1 November 1895. His mother, Alice Ann née Bradshaw, was from London, and his father, James Jones, was originally from Holywell, Flintshire. He attended the Camberwell School of Art from 1910-1914, and the Westminster School of Art from 1919-1921.
He joined the London Welsh Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fuseliers in 1915 and served as a private with them until 1918. This experience had a profound effect on him, and his first book, In Parenthesis (1937), is an epic war poem which deals with the period he spent in France.
In 1921 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, adopting Michael as a middle name. This was a defining moment in his life and work. In the same year he met Eric Gill and joined Gill's community at Ditchling, Sussex, where he learnt wood-engraving. In 1924 he became engaged to Petra Gill and often visited the family at Capel y ffin, near Abergavenny. His engagement with Petra was broken off in 1927 and subsequently he never married.
Between 1928 and 1932 he moved around a great deal, producing watercolours and also writing. In 1933 he suffered a breakdown in health and endured repeated periods of ill-health from then onwards. He virtually stopped painting until 1937. In 1937 Faber published In Parenthesis, which T. S. Eliot regarded as 'a work of genius'. He was awarded the Hawthornden prize for it in 1938.
He was based at the parental home at Brockley until his mother's death in 1937. He then lived in Notting Hill, and from about 1946 lived in Harrow on the Hill. In 1970 he fell ill after breaking a bone in his hip and resided at Calvary Nursing Home, Harrow until his death in 1974.
A volume of essays Epoch and Artist was published by Faber in 1959, followed by The Fatigue (1965), The Tribune's Visitations (1969) and The Introduction to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1972). The Sleeping Lord (1974) and The Roman Quarry (1981) were published posthumously.
In 1955 he was awarded the CBE, and also the Harriet Monroe memorial prize. In 1960 he was awarded the degree of D. Litt from The University of Wales and became both Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1961. He was awarded the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales Gold medal in 1964 and the Welsh Arts Council Literature Prize in 1969.
His whole written archive was acquired in four groups, two in 1978 and two in 1985; and a small group was transferred from the Department of Printed Books. For the purpose of noting old reference numbers they will be referred to in the catalogue as 'Group A', 'Group B', 'Group C', '1978 Purchase', and 'Items from books'. Groups A, B, and C were purchased with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund in 1985.
'Group A' was deposited at the Library by the executors of the estate of David Jones in August 1978 and subsequently purchased in 1985. A brief list appeared in the NLW Annual Report for 1978-1979, pp. 79-80, and a schedule of this '1978 deposit' was compiled in 1981. The collection had already been sorted, arranged and briefly listed by Harman Grisewood before the collection came to the National Library of Wales. It included mainly letters by David Jones to editors of newspapers, and literary manuscripts of material published in Epoch and artist: selected writings by David Jones, edited by Harman Grisewood (1959), and The Sleeping lord and other fragments (1974).
'Group B' was previously deposited at Cambridge University Library by the Trustees of David Jones in January and February 1982, and was purchased by the National Library of Wales in 1985 (see NLW Annual Report for 1985-1986, p. 60). It included biographical material and correspondence assembled by René Hague for Dai Greatcoat: a self-portrait of David Jones in his letters (1980), material for A commentary on The Anathemata of David Jones by René Hague (1977), and a large quantity of material from which was compiled The Roman Quarry and other sequences edited by Harman Grisewood and René Hague (1981).
'Group C' had remained with the Trustees of the estate, and was purchased by the Library in 1985, at the same time that Group A and Group B were purchased (see NLW Annual Report for 1985-1986, p. 60). The group included a collection of letters to David Jones from various correspondents; a collection of manuscripts, the majority relating to the pieces posthumously collected as The Dying Gaul and Other writings (1978), and a collection of biographical data, mainly financial, catalogued by Harman Grisewood.
A fourth group, known as the '1978 purchase' was a collection of literary manuscripts and papers of David Jones which was purchased by the Library from the executors of the estate of David Jones at the same time 'Group A' was deposited by them. This group included manuscripts of In Parenthesis, The Anathemata, Epoch and Artist, The Sleeping Lord and other fragments and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This collection was briefly listed on p. 62 of the NLW Annual Report for 1978-1979, and a draft catalogue of the worksheets of In Parenthesis and The Anathemata was compiled at the Library in 1981 (NLW ex 2393).
The Library of David Jones was deposited at the National Library of Wales in 1975, and was subsequently bought from his heirs in 1978. Some of the books as bought contained letters and prints. Where a letter related to a book it was left in place, but where there was no obvious relationship the letter was transferred to the Library's Department of Manuscripts, and form part of this collection. For further details see The Library of David Jones: A Catalogue by Huw Ceiriog Jones (National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1995).
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