Modern Literary Archives

The National Library of Wales is home to the archives of some of Wales’ most important poets and authors. They are a valuable research resource for studying literature and the lives of 20th and 21st century authors.

Do you want to:

  • Know more about a poet, novelist or playwright?
  • See the first draft of your favourite poem or novel?
  • Read a letter or diary by your favourite author?
  • Write literary criticism, a review or biography?
  • Read BBC radio and television scripts or the National Eisteddfod compositions?

What is available at the Library?

e.g. T Gwyn Jones, R Williams Parry, T H Parry-Williams, W J Gruffydd, Kate Roberts, Saunders Lewis, Islwyn Ffowc Elis, Angharad Tomos…

e.g. Jack Jones, Alun Lewis, John Cowper Powys, Brenda Chamberlain, Gwyn Thomas, Rhys Davies, David Jones, Vernon Watkins, Idris Davies, Gwyn Jones, Raymond Williams…

e.g. Welsh Arts Council, The National Eisteddfod of Wales, BBC (Wales), The Welsh Academy, Y Faner, Gwasg Gee…

What is included in a literary archive?

Every archive is unique – it can vary from a comprehensive archive to individual manuscripts. Often there are drafts of works, correspondence and personal papers.

One author may have kept a notebook, manuscript drafts, typescript drafts, proofs, and reviews in the papers whilst another may not have kept any drafts of his work.

The same is true about correspondence – sometimes there are whole files of personal and professional correspondence, but in other cases, only a small amount of letters will have survived.

Personal papers can shed light on an author and his works, and occasionally there will be diaries, photographs and family papers. Sometimes we will not have a collection of papers belonging to the author, but there might be letters or manuscripts that have survived amongst other people’s papers.

Using literary archives

Drafts can demonstrate how the creative process works, development of the text, changes in style and structure and can help to date the work.

The correspondence can shed light on the authors’ lives and ideas, their circle of friends and their influences.

Personal papers can include important information for biographers, editors, social historians, students who study literature, and fans.

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