Fonds GB 0210 GWYNETHLEW - Gwyneth Lewis Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Gwyneth Lewis Papers


  • [c.1965]-2011 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

24 large boxes, 2 small boxes (7.14 cubic metres).

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Gwyneth Lewis is a poet and writer who was born in Cardiff in 1959. She writes in both Welsh and English. Brought up in a Welsh-speaking family, she was educated at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, Pontypridd, and studied English at Girton College, Cambridge, before spending three years in the USA studying creative writing as a Harkness Fellow at Harvard and Columbia universities, and then as a freelance writer in New York. She has also held temporary fellowships at the universities of Harvard (2008), Stanford (2009), Cambridge (2010), Manchester (2012) and Swansea (2012), and has a D.Phil. in English from Balliol College, Oxford.

Gwyneth Lewis's first collection of poems in Welsh appeared in 1977, and her first collection of poems in English was published as Parables and Faxes in 1995, since when her poetry in both languages has been published widely. Much of her work is concerned with the relationship between language, the self and its environment, and she often engages with scientific subjects as well as the arts. Her poems in English sometimes employ the techniques of Welsh-language composition, and her style is often direct, which she describes as 'telling things as they are'. Gwyneth Lewis has won many awards for her poetry in both languages, including the Crown at the 2012 National Eisteddfod, and she composed the inscription above the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff in 2004. She has been the Welsh language editor of Poetry Wales, and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Welsh Academy. In 2005, she was made the first National Poet of Wales.

Gwyneth Lewis’s prose writing can be very personal. She addressed her problems with depression and alcoholism in Sunbathing in the Rain, while Two in a Boat is an account of sailing a yacht with her husband, Leighton Denver Davies (a former bosun in the Merchant Navy) across the Atlantic to Africa.

As well as her creative literary work, Gwyneth Lewis has been employed as a book reviewer in New York, as a correspondent for Radio Wales in the USA and the Far East, and as a documentary producer and director for BBC Wales. In 2001, she was awarded a grant by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) to carry out research and sail to ports historically linked to Cardiff and its inhabitants. She has also been commissioned by the Welsh National Opera to compose musical librettos for performances by schools and amateur singers.

Archival history

Gwyneth Lewis's papers remained in her possession until they were purchased by the Library.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gwyneth Lewis; Cardiff; Purchase; March and November 2011; 006089935

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Literary and personal papers of Gwyneth Lewis, comprising poetry, prose, correspondence, notes and other professional and private material accumulated throughout her life from her school and college years until 2011, with some gaps.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged into two groups: March 2011 Purchase; and November 2011 Purchase.

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 Gwyneth Lewis copyright can be found at (viewed October 2017).

Language of material

  • Breton
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Estonian
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Scottish Gaelic
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Turkish
  • Welsh

Script of material

Language and script notes

English and Welsh, with some Spanish, Somali, German, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Breton, Latin, Italian, Scottish Gaelic, Estonian, Turkish and Russian

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Generated finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

A copy of Gwyneth Lewis's D.Phil. thesis on eighteenth-century literary forgeries is NLW Facs 936; the musical score of her composition 'In These Stones Horizons Sing' is Papurau Menna Elfyn 5/1/13; a poem by her entitled 'Glas' is NLW ex 2876; further letters sent by her are Papurau Menna Elfyn 18/7 and in Gillian Clarke Papers 1/31, Papurau Pennar Davies PD1/29 and New Welsh Review Archive 3/11; and other material purchased from her by NLW includes: 1 phase box of approx 300 photographs, negatives and slides; and photographs and postcards in Llyfr Ffoto 5888(b), which predominantly consist of postcards sent by Gwyneth Lewis's grandfather, Lance-Corporal Ben James (155474), Royal Engineers, to his family in Cross Inn and Talgarreg whilst on active service in France between 1916 and 1919.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title supplied from contents.


Preferred citation: Gwyneth Lewis Papers


A small box of digital material, including 56 floppy disks, 3 CD ROMs and a minidisk, is currently uncatalogued.


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


A box of material labelled by Gwyneth Lewis as 'EMBARGO - COMMERCIALLY SENSITIVE' has been closed until 2030.

Alternative identifier(s)

Alma system control number


Access points

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Name 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.; RDA NACO; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

January 2019


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Gwyneth Lewis's website (viewed 2016 and 2017); papers within the archive.

Archivist's note

Compiled by David Moore.

Accession area

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