File NLW MS 24139E. - David Jones letters to Morag Owen

Identity area

Reference code

NLW MS 24139E.


David Jones letters to Morag Owen


  • 1952-1990 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

50 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

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Archival history

Consigned to auction by Morag Bulbrook's descendants.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Forum Auctions; London; Purchased at auction, lot 382; 21 November 2019; 99995813502419.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Correspondence and other papers, 1952-1990, of Morag Owen (née McLennan; later married name Bulbrook), relating to her friend the painter-poet David Jones, including eighteen letters and cards to her from Jones, 1952-1973 (ff. 1-15, 17-25), and one to her first husband Richard Owen, 28 July 1965 (f. 16), mostly concerning personal matters, Jones's health, Welsh grammar and placenames and the 'Old North'.
Four of the items are photographic reproductions of Jones's inscriptions, sent as Christmas, and other, cards (ff. 1, 3, 9-10); in three instances Jones has altered the photographs with the addition of further painted inscriptions (ff. 3, 9-10). A copy of the 1961 Faber Christmas card, designed by Jones, was sent by him as a ' Spring 1962' card (ff. 11-12; for a clean copy of the same card see ff. 39-40). Also included are letters to Morag from Barbara, [Countess of] Moray, 31 August 1977 (f. 26), Diana L. Austin, Oxford, April-May 1978 (ff. 27-31), and Thomas Dilworth, University of Windsor, Ontario, 1986-1990 (ff. 33-35), all concerning David Jones, as well as two draft inscriptions, presumably by Jones (ff. 36-37), a photograph of him, [1950x1970] (f. 38), a pencil drawing by Jones of a young woman in profile, [c. 1967] (f. 41), and press cuttings of three book reviews from The Times, 15 May 1978, p. 12 (f. 44), The Tablet, 3 June 1978, pp. 532-3 (ff. 45-46) and The Sunday Times, 18 June 1978, p. 40 (f. 47).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged at NLW as follows: correspondence (arranged chronologically); miscellaneous papers relating to David Jones (arranged broadly chronologically).

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 David Jones copyright can be found at: (viewed January 2020).

Language of material

  • English
  • Latin
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, some Welsh, Latin.

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 letters of Morag Owen to David Jones see NLW, David Jones (Artist and Writer) Papers CT1/5 (29) and CT3/6, ff. 153-154 (2); for two drafts of Jones's letter to Owen, dated 16-17 December 1967, see CF1/16, ff. 43-44.
A copy of T. S. Eliot, The Cultivation of Christmas Trees, illustrated by David Jones (London: Faber, 1954), purchased with the papers, is also in the National Library of Wales.

Notes area


Title based on contents.


Purchased with financial assistance from The Friends of the National Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Alma system control number


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


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

January 2020.




Archivist's note

Description compiled by Rhys Jones.

Accession area