File NLW MS 24128F. - David Jones letters to Louis Bonnerot

Identity area

Reference code

NLW MS 24128F.


David Jones letters to Louis Bonnerot


  • 1937, 1959-1974 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

61 ff.

Placed in melinex sleeves within ringed box 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 Fusiliers 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

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Emmanuel Bonnerot, son of Louis Bonnerot; Ferney-Voltaire, France; Donation; October 2018; 99890885102419.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Correspondence, 1937, 1959-1974, of Louis Bonnerot, Professor of English Literature at the Sorbonne, Paris, comprising twenty-two letters, 1960-1974, from the poet and artist David Jones, Harrow, mostly concerning Bonnerot's translations of Jones's poems into French (ff. 1-47), together with four draft and copy letters from Bonnerot to Jones, 1959-1974 (ff. 49-54), a letter, 24 August 1974, from Jones to Luce Bonnerot, following her husband Louis's death (f. 48), and a typescript letter, 25 December [1937], to Bonnerot from C[ecil] Day Lewis (f. 55).
Jones answers Bonnerot's questions about specific turns-of-phrase used in his poems as well as giving detailed corrections to printers' errors in editions of his work; he also discusses reviews and lectures by Bonnerot, articles in British magazines concerning Jones's work, and the history of Wales and Roman Britain. An illustration of a 'pacing-stick' is on f. 11 verso. There are occasional annotations in pencil by Bonnerot (ff. 29, 29 verso, 32, 33 verso, 36, 36 verso, 38, 38 verso, and 43), together with a transcript by Bonnerot of most of Jones's letter of 9 October 1972 (ff. 56-61).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged at NLW as follows: David Jones letters; Louis Bonnerot draft letters; Cecil Day-Lewis letter; transcribed letter.

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 ownership of David Jones copyright can be found at: (viewed April 2019).

Language of material

  • English
  • Greek
  • Latin
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, some Latin, Welsh and Greek.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

For papers of David Jones relating to Louis Bonnerot see NLW, David Jones (Artist and Writer) Papers; these comprise Bonnerot's first letter to Jones, dated 30 June 1959, of which f. 49 is a carbon copy (CT3/3, f. 239), a card from Bonnerot to Jones, [n.d.] (in CT6/3), drafts of Jones's letters dated 20 July 1966 and 6 August 1968 (LS3/6, ff. 6-9), drafts of the letters dated 4 January 1960, 20 July 1966, 17-18 September 1966 and 22 April 1967, together with another draft letter, possibly never sent, [?late 1972] (in CF1/5), and a typescript article 'La reve du Simple Soldat Clitus', translated by Bonnerot (R2/32, ff. 35-45).

Notes area


Title based on contents.

Alternative identifier(s)

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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

April 2019.




Archivist's note

Description compiled by Myra Booth-Cockroft and Rhys Jones.

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