- [15 cent.]-[1920x1930] (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
Owen Morgan Edwards was a prominent man of letters, author, editor, tutor in history at Oxford University, 1889-1907, and the first Chief Inspector of Schools under the new Welsh Education Department.
O. M. Edwards was born at Coed-y-pry, Llanuwchllyn, Merioneth, on 26 December 1858, the eldest son of Owen and Elizabeth Edwards. With the original intention of entering the nonconformist ministry, he attended Bala College, and subsequently spent the period 1880-1883 at the young University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he studied English, history and philosophy. He spent the academic year 1883-1884 at Glasgow studying philosophy, and the years 1884-1887 at Balliol College, Oxford, where he enjoyed a notably distinguished career, winning three major university prizes, and graduating with first class honours in history in 1887. During this formative period of his life he came heavily under the influence of the aestheticism of Ruskin and William Morris, and of the Dafydd ap Gwilym Society which much enhanced his indigenous love of his native Wales. It was primarily within this Society that Edwards formed an enduring bond of friendship with prominent Welshmen such as Edward Anwyl, J. Puleston Jones, John Morris-Jones and D. Lleufer Thomas
O. M. Edwards spent the year 1888-1889 on the continent, and in the latter year was appointed Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, and tutor in history there and at other colleges. He remained in this position until 1907 and was notable for his dedication to his lecture preparation and tutorial work. His academic publications were few until 1901 when his popular volume entitled Wales - a book on the history of Wales - was published. From 1890 onwards he also became engaged in editing a number of Welsh periodicals that compelled him to spend an inordinate amount of his time in drafting numerous articles and proof correcting. These periodicals included Cymru Fydd (begun in 1890), Cymru (1891), Cymru'r Plant (1892), Wales (1894), Y Llenor (1895) and Heddyw (1897). He also published a number of slim volumes such as Cartrefi Cymru (1896), and set in train a scheme to re-publish considerable numbers of the Welsh classics, primarily in the series Cyfres y Fil. This service was critical in ensuring the survival of a distinctive Welsh culture by providing the Welsh people with a knowledge of their past history and literature, and nurturing a school of young Welsh writers. His contribution in this sphere may be compared with that of Thomas Gee. In 1906 he also established 'Urdd y Delyn', a children's society which was a precursor of 'Urdd Gobaith Cymru' set up by his son Ifan ab Owen Edwards in 1922.
In 1907 Edwards was appointed the first Chief Inspector of Schools under the aegis of the recently established Welsh Education Department. Here, he reformed the Welsh education system by encouraging the teaching of Welsh and improving the atmosphere of Welsh schools. But he did come into conflict with the Central Welsh Board set up in 1896 over his conviction that the new intermediate schools established in the 1890s were severe anglicising influences in Wales.
Following the premature death of Thomas Edward Ellis MP in April 1899, Edwards served for one session as the Liberal MP for his native Merionethshire, but he disliked the reality of political life and decided not to stand for re-election in the general election of 1900. His intense nationalism was primarily cultural rather than political. He was knighted in January 1916 and received the degree of D.Litt honoris causa from the University of Wales in 1918. He died, still in post, at his home Neuadd Wen (an adaptation of Whitehall, the headquarters of the Board of Education in London) Llanuwchllyn, in 1920. His wife, Ellen Davies of Prys Mawr, Llanuwchllyn, had predeceased him the previous year. There were three children of the marriage, but the elder son died in infancy.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards and Mrs Haf Hughes Parry (later Lady Hughes Parry), children of Sir O. M. Edwards; Presentation; 1930
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Manuscripts from the library of Sir Owen Morgan Edwards (1858-1920), mostly belonging to the nineteenth century, and consisting of original copy of published material in the form of essays, short stories, original and translated poetry, collections of proverbs, etc.; also included in the collection are account books, sermons, diary entries, miscellaneous papers on various literary topics, and autograph letters of well-known Welsh figures.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 8330-8444.
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 1998 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.
Language of material
- Ancient Greek
Script of material
Language and script notes
Welsh, English, Latin, Ancient Greek.
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume III (Aberystwyth, 1961), pp. 36-49.
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Formerly Neuadd Wen MSS 1-115.
Preferred citation: NLW MSS 8330-8444.
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
Genre access points
Description control area
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
September 2005 and April 2011.
Description compiled by Siân Medi Davies for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS, and revised by Bethan Ifan;