Search the Catalogue

National Library of Wales

Rhys Davies Papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 RHYSDA

Held at:

Title: Rhys Davies Papers

Short title: Davies, Rhys, papers

Dates of creation: 1901-1979

Level of description: Fonds

Extent and medium: 0.414 cubic metres (24 boxes), + 23 vols.

Name of creator(s): Rhys Davies


Administrative and biographical history: Rhys Davies (1901-1978), novelist and short story writer, 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, the first collection being published in 1927, the same year as his first novel. Most of the stories 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' starred Dame Flora Robson and 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 in 1979 they were published as The best of Rhys Davies. 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.


Scope and content: The 1990 group comprises 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' (Helen Ferguson, 1901-1968), including a short draft of a work of fiction in her hand.

The NLW MSS comprise autograph and typescript drafts of the short story The walled city, 1960; the novel Girl waiting in the shade, [?late 1950s]; stories collected in The chosen one, 1967; The little heiress; I will keep her company; Betty Leyshon's marathon; The shriving of Gwenny Treharne with the title 'Turning point in Gwenny's life', a later version of The shriving of Gwenny Treharne with the title 'Evensong'; Love kept waiting; The chosen one, 1967; Print of a hare's foot, [pre 1969]; Nobody answered the bell, [pre 1971]; Tomorrow to fresh woods, 1941; and two articles entitled 'The god on the oven door', 1963, and 'Anna Kavan', 1971.


Language/script: English unless otherwise specified.

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW into four groups: personal papers, literary papers, accumulated papers, and manuscripts.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Queries regarding Rhys Davies copyright should be directed to Mr A. L. Davies, 16 Priory Court, Mountfield Road, Lewes, East Sussex, or to Dr Meic Stephens (Secretary of the Rhys Davies Trust), 10 Heol Don, Whitchurch, Cardiff (information from the Watch file (Writers, artists & their copyright holders),, September 2002).

Finding aids: The catalogue is available online, and in hard copy at NLW; the 1990 group in 'Rhys Davies Papers', and the NLW MSS in 'Handlist of NLW MSS'.
Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: Miscellaneous printed and typescript ephemera in the 1990 group, 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. All the manuscripts purchased by NLW have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are possible.

Archival history: The papers were acquired, presumably after the death of Rhys Davies in 1978, by his brother Arthur Lewis Davies.

Immediate source of acquisition: The main group of personal, literary and accumulated papers was purchased from Rhys Davies's brother Mr Arthur Lewis Davies, Lewes, East Sussex, in May 1990, having originally been placed on deposit in October 1989. Additional papers (now H1/3) were purchased from Dr Meic Stephens (acting on behalf of Arthur Lewis Davies) in December 2001. The manuscripts now NLW MSS 21528-21546 were purchased by NLW in 1973. The correspondence and literary manuscripts now NLW MSS 23106-23109 were purchased by NLW from Louis F. Quinain of Wellington, Somerset, in 1992.


Related units of description: Other groups of papers of Rhys Davies, including literary manuscripts and letters to and from him, purchased by NLW between 1965 and 2000, are NLW MSS 19407, 20785, 20897, 22003 and 23847-23848. Photographs (PG 6804) and sketches etc. (PG 6805-6813) are in NLW, Special Collections. Further manuscripts and letters of Rhys Davies are held mainly at The University of Texas at Austin: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library. Others are held by the University of London, Library (see file level descriptions).


Note: Fonds and other titles supplied from contents. The last date of creation exceeds the life of Rhys Davies since the papers include letters of administration, 1979, and letters, 1979, addressed to his brother Lewis Davies.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Ann Francis Evans. 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 Davies, Rhys, Print of a hare's foot (Bridgend, 1998); Location register of twentieth-century English literary manuscripts & letters (British Library, 1998); Callard, David, The case of Anna Kavan: a biography (London, 1992); Times obituary, February 1972 and Vogue, June 1964; Who's who in art (1960 and 1974); and Stephens, Meic (compiler and editor), Rhys Davies: collected stories (Llandysul, 1998).

Rules or conventions: This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR II; and LCSH.

Date(s) of description: September 2002



Davies, Rhys, | 1901-1978 | Archives

English literature | Welsh authors | 20th century

Personal names

Davies, Rhys, 1901-1978

Corporate names