- 1901-1979 (Creation)
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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.
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.
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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.
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