Fonds GB 0210 RHYSDA - Rhys Davies Papers

Identity area

Reference code



Rhys Davies Papers


  • 1901-1979 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.464 cubic metres (24 boxes, 25 volumes); 1 small box (July 2009)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Rhys Davies (1901-1978) was a novelist and short story writer.
He was born Rees Vivian Davies in Clydach Vale, Rhondda, on 9 November 1901. His father Thomas Rees Davies was a grocer from Tonypandy and his mother Sarah Ann Lewis, a teacher from Ynysybwl. He received his secondary education at Porth County School, 1913-1916. In 1918 he moved to London and became a full time writer, having previously worked in a Potato and Corn Merchants in Cardiff.
Rhys Davies did not receive a college education but prepared himself for a literary career by studying English and European classics. He spent some months during 1928 and 1929 in Paris and Nice and was invited to spend some time with D. H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda in Bandol. Between 1939 and 1941 he worked as a civilian at the War Office. In 1968 Rhys Davies was awarded an OBE for his contribution to literature and in 1971 he received the Welsh Arts Council Prize in recognition of his contribution to the literature of Wales.
Rhys Davies wrote a great number of short stories. His first collection was published in 1927 as was his first novel. Most of these have Welsh rural or industrial settings. He was the author of two autobiographical and descriptive books, My Wales (London, 1937) and The story of Wales (London, 1943). His autobiography Print of a hare's foot was published in 1969. He also contributed his short stories to numerous British and American periodicals. A keen theatre-goer, his play 'No escape' which starred Dame Flora Robson was performed at numerous theatres across Britain, 1954-1955. The story 'The chosen one' won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for the best short story published in the United States in 1966.
Rhys Davies died 21 August 1978 at St Pancras Hospital, Camden. A dozen of his best stories had been selected by him for republication and these were published as The Best of Rhys Davies (1979). In 1990 the Rhys Davies Trust was established to promote English writing by Welsh people. The Rhys Davies short story competition was first held in 1991 and was organised by the Academi in conjunction with the Rhys Davies Trust who sponsored the event.

Archival history

The papers (besides most of the manuscripts) were acquired, presumably after the death of Rhys Davies in 1978, by his brother Arthur Lewis Davies.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

NLW MSS 21528-21546: [Dealer acting on behalf of Rhys Davies]; Purchase; 1973.
Personal, literary and accumulated papers: Mr Arthur Lewis Davies, brother of Rhys Davies; Lewes, East Sussex; Purchase (having originally been placed on deposit in October 1989); May 1990; B1990/4.
NLW MSS 23106-9: Mr Louis F. Quinain; Wellington, Somerset; Purchase; September 1992; B1992/44.
NLW MSS 23847-8: [Arthur] Lewis Davies (per Dr Meic Stephens, Cardiff); Lewes; Purchase; September 2000; B2000/14.
H1/3: Arthur Lewis Davies (per Dr Meic Stephens); Purchase; December 2001; B2001/23.
Additional papers (uncatalogued): Dr Meic Stephens; Purchase; July 2009.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Literary and personal papers of Rhys Davies, 1901-1979, comprising manuscript drafts and typescript copies, mainly of short stories and plays, together with drafts and a manuscript text of his last novel Ram with Red Horns (Bridgend, 1996), set in south Wales. Also included are letters to and from Rhys Davies, mostly 1960s and 1970s, and papers relating to his friend, the novelist Anna Kavan, including a short draft of a work of fiction in her hand. The manuscripts include autograph and typescript drafts of the short story 'The Walled City', [?1950s], the novels Tomorrow to Fresh Woods (1941), Girl Waiting in the Shade (1960), [?late 1950s], and Nobody Answered the Bell (1971), stories collected in The Chosen One (1967), the autobiographical volume Print of a Hare's Foot (1969), and the articles 'The God on the Oven Door', 1963, and 'Anna Kavan', 1971.

Additional letters and papers relating to Rhys Davies were acquired July 2009. This group remains uncatalogued.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Miscellaneous printed and typescript ephemera including Writers Action Group newsletters and Yr Academi Gymreig (English Section) circulars have been destroyed, together with holiday brochures and cuttings about holiday destinations in Britain and abroad. Authority to destroy unwanted papers is given in Departmental Appraisal Form AFE/GP/2002/17.


Accruals are possible.

System of arrangement

Arranged at NLW into four groups: manuscripts; personal papers; literary papers; and accumulated 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 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. Information regarding ownership of Rhys Davies copyright can be found at (viewed March 2016).

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

English unless specified otherwise.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Finding aids are available in hard copy at NLW: 'Rhys Davies MSS' (1973 group) and 'Rhys Davies Papers' (1990 group).

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Other groups of papers of Rhys Davies, including literary manuscripts and correspondence, are NLW MSS 19407C, 20785E, 20897E and 22003E. Photographs (PG 6804) and sketches, etc. (PG 6805-6813) are also in NLW. Further manuscripts and letters of Rhys Davies are held at The University of Texas at Austin: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library, and at the University of London, Library (see file level descriptions).

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title based on contents of fonds.


Letters of administration, 1979, and letters, 1979, addressed to Lewis Davies postdate the death of Rhys Davies.

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Virtua system control number


GEAC system control number


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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

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

September 2002 and March 2016


  • English



The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Who's Who 1897-1996 on CD-ROM; Dictionary of National Biography on CD-ROM; Simon Baker's introduction in Rhys Davies, Print of a Hare's Foot (Bridgend, 1998); Location Register of Twentieth-Century English Literary Manuscripts and Letters (The British Library, 1998); David Callard, The Case of Anna Kavan: A Biography (London, 1992); 'Mr Rhys Davies' [Obituary], The Times, 24 August 1978, p. 14; Vogue, June 1964; Who's Who in Art (1960 and 1974); and Rhys Davies, Collected Stories, ed. by Meic Stephens (Llandysul, 1998).

Archivist's note

Compiled by Ann Francis Evans, and revised by Rhys Morgan Jones.

Accession area

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