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National Library of Wales
Lewis, Alun, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 ALEWIS

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Alun Lewis Papers

Short Title: Lewis, Alun, papers

Creation date(s): [1919]-1985

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.161 cubic metres (7 boxes and 1 volume) (1988 and 2003 donations)

Name of creator(s): Alun Lewis


Administrative/Biographical history: Alun Lewis (1915-1944) was a poet and short-story writer.
Alun Lewis was born on 1 July 1915 in Cwmaman, Aberdare, the eldest of three sons and a daughter born to Thomas John Lewis, a schoolmaster and his wife Gwladys Lewis. He received his education at Glynhafod Elementary School, 1920-1926, and afterwards he attended Cowbridge Grammar School, 1926-1932, after winning a scholarship. He won scholarships both to Jesus College, Oxford, and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, but chose the latter. He graduated in history in 1935 with first class honours and while at the University he worked on its magazine where he also published his first poems and stories. From Aberystwyth he moved to Manchester University, 1935-1937, where he researched for his masters degree in medieval history before returning to Aberystwyth to follow a teacher training course. He taught history at Lewis Pengam School from 1938 until he joined the Royal Engineers in May 1940.
He married Gweno Ellis of Aberystwyth on 5 July 1941 and was posted to the 6th Battalion South Wales Borderers at Woodbridge in Suffolk in the same year. His first volume of poetry Raiders' Dawn was published in 1942. A volume of short stories The Last Inspection was also published in that year. In the winter of 1942 the battalion was shipped to India. He died in Burma on 5 March 1944 and was buried in Taukyan War Cemetery.


Scope and content/abstract: The papers of Alun Lewis, [1919]-1985, include family correspondence and letters from Robert Graves; autograph and typescript copies of published and unpublished poems; typescript copies of published and unpublished prose; personalia; an unpublished autobiographical novella of college life and memorial tributes to Alun Lewis in poetry form; and notebooks containing poetry and other writings by him.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: The papers donated in 1988 and described elsewhere have been arranged into eleven groups: poetry, prose, worksheets, the Caseg Broadsheets, correspondence, personalia, periodicals, articles, scripts, newspaper cuttings and miscellaneous papers. The notebooks donated in 2003 have been arranged into a single file.

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: Copyright in the works of Alun Lewis belongs to his widow Mrs Gweno Lewis, Aberystwyth (information from the Watch file (Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders),, January 2005). Otherwise usual copyright laws apply.

Finding aids: Hard copies of the lists describing the papers donated in 1988 and 2003 are available at NLW. The list of the papers donated in 1988 can also be accessed on-line from


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All papers donated to NLW have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: The first group of papers, listed elsewhere, was donated in June 1988 by Mrs Gweno M. Lewis, Alun Lewis's widow. The group described here was also donated by her per Mrs Mary Davies, Aberystwyth, in December 2003.


Related material: Fifteen letters from Alun Lewis to John Petts are in NLW MS 23208E. Twenty-eight letters from Alun Lewis to Brenda Chamberlain, 1941-1944, are in NLW MS 20798C. Letters, 1938-1944, from Alun Lewis to Richard (Dick) Mills are in NLW ex 2161. A holograph of an early unpublished 24-line poem by Alun Lewis beginning 'It seemed to me Truth lay at rest' is in NLW MS 21177C. Drafts of sections III and IV of 'Indian Day' published in Ha! Ha! among the Trumpets: poems in transit (London, 1945) are in NLW MS 20782E. His poem 'It seemed to Methodist. Truth lay at rest' is in NLW MS 21177C. His script 'Our Grandparents at School', broadcast 4 December 1938, is in the BBC Archive; and an engraving of Alun Lewis by John Petts is in NLW, Special Collections. Printed books from the library of Alun and Gweno Lewis are in NLW printed books collection.


Note: The last date of creation is later than the date of death of Alun Lewis because the papers include letters written to his widow Gweno Lewis.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Ann Francis Evans.
The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Gwladys E. Lewis, Alun Lewis, my son (Aberystwyth, [?1971]); Dictionary of National Biography on CD-ROM; Poetry Wales , vol. 10, no. 3 (Alun Lewis Special Number); and Welsh Biography Online website, 4 January 2005.

Rules or conventions: This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: January 2005

English literature | Welsh authors | 20th century
English literature | Welsh authors | Bibliography
English poetry | Welsh authors | 20th century
Lewis, Alun, | 1915-1944 | Archives
Short stories, English | Welsh authors

Personal names
Lewis , Alun , 1915-1944

Corporate names


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