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Boston College collection of David Jones

Collection MS-1986-001: Boston College collection of David Jones


  • 1922 - 1989

Scope and Contents

This collection documents nineteenth-century British author and artist David Jones through his correspondence, ephemera, drawings, paintings, prints, manuscripts, typescripts, and proofs of his poetry and prose.

Jones's correspondence is largely with friends and publishers. Of note are letters to Louis Bussell, which focus on the events on the continent prior to World War II as well as artistic matters. Correspondence to Edward Little discusses the publication of “The Dying Gaul” broadcast in America. And letters to the poet Vernon Watkins, the largest single group in the collection, relates to the publication of "The Wall" and "The Tutelar of the Place" in the American journal Poetry. Also included are a number of letters to the Society of Authors.

Jones’s writings are mostly short works originally written for periodicals or delivered as radio addresses. Prose writings include essays and addresses, most of which were later published in the collections Epoch and Artist (1959) and The Dying Gaul (the posthumous collection, 1978). Poems include multiple versions of "The Fatigue" and "The Wall."

Jones’s art works comprise drawings, engravings, and watercolor paintings. The wood engravings includes proofs for his illustrations of The Book of Jonah and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, with both rejected and final plates. The collection also includes some later reproductions of Jones’s art as calendars, cards, and posters.

Lastly, the collection contains some materials about Jones and his works, as well as his collected ephemera.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical note

Born in Brockley, Kent on November 1, 1895, Walter David Jones, known as David, was the third child of James Jones, a Welshman by birth, and Alice Ann Bradshaw, an Englishwoman and an amateur watercolor artist. Jones's Welsh heritage was a large influence throughout his life and work.

He enrolled in the Camberwell School of Art at the age of fourteen. When World War I began, he enlisted in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and remained in the trenches until wounded in the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

In 1921 he became a Roman Catholic. In 1922 he joined Eric Gill's Guild of Saint Joseph and Saint Dominic at Ditchling, Sussex, where he learned wood and copper engraving. Jones developed a close friendship with Gill and his family, and relocated to Capel-y-Ffin, Wales in 1924 following their move there. Jones continued engraving, and also worked at the Benedictine community on Caldey Island. He was engaged to the Gills' daughter, Petra; but their engagement was broken off in 1927. Jones's friend Rene Hague married Petra's sister Joan, and the three were to remain close friends.

After the Gills left Wales for Buckinghamshire in 1927, Jones divided his time between their new home, his parents' home in Kent, and the residence of his friend and patron Helen Sutherland in Northumberland. The period from 1926-1933 was a prolific one for Jones's art, during which he produced engravings, illustrations, watercolor paintings, and drawings His work was included in several exhibitions at galleries in London and abroad.

In 1927, Jones began writing and started what would become In parenthesis; seinnyessit e gledyf ym penn mameu (1937), a combination of prose and poetry about World War I. Although it was not a commercial success, in 1938 it won the Hawthornden Prize. In 1952, Jones published the long poem The Anathemata, which was awarded the Russell Loines Memorial Award for poetry by the American National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1954. He was made Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1955.

In 1962, Jones moved to Harrow, where he lived a retired life but continued to correspond extensively with friends. In 1970, he suffered a stroke and a broken leg. He moved to the Calvary Nursing Home, where he died on October 28, 1974.


Blamires, David. David Jones: Artist and Writer. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1971.

Grisewood, Harman, ed. Epoch and Artist: Selected Writings by David Jones. New York: Chilmark Press, 1959.

Hague, Rene, ed. Dai Greatcoat: A self-portrait of David Jones in his letters. London: Faber and Faber, 1980.

Rees, Samuel. David Jones. London: Twayne Publishers, 1978.


11 Linear Feet (9 containers)

Language of Materials



This collection documents nineteenth-century British author and artist David Jones through his correspondence, ephemera, drawings, engravings, paintings, manuscripts, typescripts, and proofs of his poetry and short prose.


Organized into four series: I. Correspondence, II. Literary works, III. Art, and IV. Ephemera.

Series II. Literary works is further divided into two subseries: A. Prose and B. Poetry. Series III. Art is also further divided into two subseries: A. Original, and B. Reproductions.


Purchased from Serendipity Books in 1986, and gift of Michelle Russell in 2000.

Related Materials

Boston College collection of Eric Gill, MS.1986.139, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Boston College Collection of David Jones
Michelle Russell and Mark Roskoski
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States
617-552-2465 (Fax)