An important letter from poet and artist David Jones (1895-1974), author of In Parenthesis, to novelist Anthony Powell. The letter was bought for the National Library of Wales with the aid of a grant of £650 from the Friends of the National Libraries.
The letter, which is dated 10-11 July 1967, discusses Welsh history and genealogy, topics on which these two men of letters - both of Welsh descent - shared a common interest. The National Library of Wales’ extensive David Jones Archive - the most complete archive of the artist-poet’s work in existence - contains two associated letters from Powell to Jones, dated 8 and 16 July 1967 respectively (NLW, David Jones Papers, CT2/2). It also contains a draft of a letter from Jones to Powell, dated 15 July 1967, but in fact responding to Powell’s letter of 16 July (NLW, David Jones Papers, CF1/12, f. 12).
In addition to thus complementing our holdings of Jones’ archival remains (the National Library is also home to his library, and to a collection of his art works), the letter purchased at Bonham’s contains one element which was particularly attractive to the Library during 2016. David Jones’ musings on genealogy and mutual acquaintances leads him to refer in is letter to his experience of the First World War: ‘What a long, long time ago that pre-World War II period now seems – World War I seems, to me, much more close – but that may only be because I was “in it” & it remains an “indelible mark”. It chances that I write on the anniversary of the events of Part 7 of In Parenthesis, July 10th-11th 1916 and the assault on Mametz Wood by the Welsh Division.’ Between 2 July and 3 December 2016, the National Library’s Mametz exhibition, inspired by David Jones’ In Parenthesis, showed relevant documents from the poet’s archive side-by-side with new images of the site of the Mametz Wood battle by modern photographer Aled Rhys Hughes. The timely purchase of the new David Jones letter (now NLW MS 24045F, f. 16) allowed for its inclusion in this important commemorative exhibition.