File NLW MS 21797E. - David Jones letters to Tom Burns

Identity area

Reference code

NLW MS 21797E.

Title

David Jones letters to Tom Burns

Date(s)

  • 1940-1971 (Creation)

Level of description

File

Extent and medium

i, 68 ff. ; c. 320 x 200 mm.

Guarded and filed at NLW.

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

David Jones (1895-1974) was an accomplished artist who produced watercolours, illustrations and inscriptions, and who also gained acclaim as a poet, especially as the author of In Parenthesis in 1937, and the long prose poem The Anathemata in 1952.
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.

Name of creator

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Mr T. F. Burns; London; Purchase; 1982.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Twenty-three letters, 1940-1971, from David Jones, artist and writer, to his friend T. F. (Tom) Burns, nineteen of which date from the period 1940-1944 and form a valuable source for the life and work of the writer during the war years. The principal subjects discussed in the others are the history of Wales, the early history of the compass, Malory's Morte Arthur and the writer's experiences in the First World War. Twelve of these letters were printed, wholly or in part, by René Hague in Dai Greatcoat: A self-portrait of David Jones in his Letters (London, 1980).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: digitized. Action identifier: cymruww1. Date: 2013. Authorization: The Welsh experience of World War One, 1914-1918.

Accruals

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 noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their readers' tickets.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright laws apply.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

English.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The contents are indexed in greater detail in Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, vol. 8 (Aberystwyth, 1999).

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

For photocopies of the letters see NLW Facs 392.

Related units of description

A typescript copy of the letters is available in NLW Facs. 392.

Related descriptions

Publication note

René Hague, Dai Greatcoat: A Self-portrait of David Jones in his Letters (London, 1980).

Notes area

Note

Title based on contents.

Note

Preferred citation: NLW MS 21797E.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number

vtls004242249

GEAC system control number

(WlAbNL)0000242249

Project identifier

cymruww1

Access points

Place access points

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

Status

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Language(s)

  • English

Script(s)

Sources

Accession area