Fonds GB 0210 GCLARKE - Gillian Clarke Papers,

Identity area

Reference code



Gillian Clarke Papers,


  • 1907-1999 (accumulated 1944-1999) / (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.225 cubic metres (25 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Gillian Clarke is a poet, writer, editor and broadcaster.
Gillian Kieft Williams was born in Cardiff in 1937, the daughter of Ceinwin and Penri Williams. Her mother originated from Denbighshire and her father was a native of Carmarthenshire, and although both parents spoke Welsh their children were educated through the medium of English. She attended schools in Barry, Penarth and Porthcawl, and read English at University College, Cardiff, where she graduated in 1958. She spent two years working as a researcher in the News Information Department for the BBC in London, before returning to Wales. In 1960 she married Peter Clarke and devoted the following years to raising their three children.
Gillian Clarke's poems were first published in Poetry Wales in 1970, and she was soon recognised as one of the leading Welsh poets writing in English. Her first collection of poems, Snow on the mountain, was published in 1971, followed by The sundial (1978), Letter from a far country (1982), Letting in the rumour (1989), The King of Britain's daughter (1993), Five fields (1998), and Making the beds for the dead (2004). A volume of Selected poems was published in 1985 and her Collected poems appeared in 1997. Commissioned poems include Nine Green Gardens (2000), Owain Glyn Dwr (2000), and Bioverse (2000); and some have been performed on radio, e.g. 'Talking in the dark' (1975), and 'Letter from a far country' (1979). In addition, she has written poems for children, including The Animal Wall (1999), and her work has been published in various anthologies and is studied by GCSE and A-Level students. Essays, articles, short stories and reviews by Gillian Clarke have appeared in numerous publications. In recent years she has written several plays which have been performed in theatre and on radio, including 'The Blue Man' (2000) and 'Letter from a far country' (2004, adapted from the poem of the same title).
Although Welsh is her second language, the language and culture are an inherent feature of her writing, as is the rural background to much of her work and her experiences as a woman. She has learnt Welsh and published poems in the language, and occasionally incorporates elements of Welsh-language writing, such as traditional Welsh metres and vocabulary, in her English work. Stories translated by her from Welsh were published in One Moonlit Night (1991), and she has translated Welsh poems into English, most notably those by Menna Elfyn.
Gillian Clarke has held various freelance teaching posts over the years. She was a lecturer in art history at Gwent College of Art and Design between 1975 and 1984. In 1984-1985 she held a writing fellowship at St. David's University College, Lampeter, and has tutored students on an M.Phil. course in Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan since 1994. She has taught creative writing to school children and adults for a number of years and organised and participated in poetry workshops and readings in England and Wales. She has travelled abroad on writers' exchange visits, given poetry readings and lectures as far afield as Europe and the United States, and her work has been translated into several languages. In 1971 she became reviews editor of The Anglo-Welsh Review, and succeeded Roland Mathias as editor of the journal from 1976 to 1984.
Gillian Clarke is a member of Academi and a past Chair of Yr Academi Gymreig (English Language Section). In 1990 she co-founded Tŷ Newydd, and has been President of the writers' centre in North Wales; she was also appointed Chair of the Taliesin Trust in 1989. She has been honoured by Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Swansea Colleges of the University of Wales, and in 1997 a volume of essays, poems and tributes by other writers and critics, edited by Menna Elfyn, Trying the Line, was compiled to mark her sixtieth birthday.
She lives with her second husband on a smallholding in Talgarreg, Ceredigion.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Ms Gillian Clarke; Talgarreg, Llandysul; Purchase; March and September 2000, and April 2001.B2000/6.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds comprises the literary and personal papers of Gillian Clarke, 1907-1999, including correspondence, and drafts of published and unpublished poems and prose works by her. Also included are papers relating to poetry workshops and readings, The Anglo-Welsh Review, Tŷ Newydd and the Frances Horovitz Memorial Trust, together with a small group of personal papers.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: All of the papers purchased by NLW have been retained..


Accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged at NLW in ten series: correspondence, poetry, prose works, radio broadcasts, workshops, readings etc, The Anglo-Welsh Review, trust papers, Yr Academi Gymreig, the Welsh Arts Council, and personal papers.

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

  • English
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English mainly; some Welsh.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Letters from Gillian Clarke are included among various archives at NLW, mainly papers of other Anglo-Welsh writers. An MA dissertation (University of Wales, Swansea, 1995) by C. G. Ladd entitled, 'A study of the diverse nature of the poetry of Gillian Clarke', is also held at NLW (1995/748). In addition, recordings featuring Gillian Clarke are held by the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales at NLW (refs 013173/05, 008767/01, 005890/03, 001659/03, 001173/04, 001171/12, 001167/13, 004508/01, 002943/04, 002923/07; see also file level descriptions).

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title supplied from contents of fonds. The earliest date of creation precedes the date of birth of Gillian Clarke as the archive includes material relating to The Anglo-Welsh Review.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

January 2005.


  • English



Archivist's note

Compiled by Siân Bowyer.

Archivist's note

The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: M. Stephens ed., The new companion to the literature of Wales (Cardiff, 1998); Menna Elfyn ed., Trying the line (Llandysul, 1997); the Gillian Clarke website (; T. Riggs ed., Contemporary poets, 6th edn (1996); I. Hamilton ed., The Oxford companion to twentieth-century poetry in English (Oxford, 1994); V. Blain, P. Clements and I. Grundy, The feminist companion to literature in English (London, 1990); Academi website (; and documents contained within the Gillian Clarke archive;

Accession area

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Physical storage

  • Text: Gillian Clarke Papers.