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National Library of Wales
Mathias, Roland, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 RMATHIAS

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Roland Mathias Papers

Short Title: Mathias, Roland, papers

Creation date(s): 1925-2003 (with gaps)

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.729 cubic metres (81 boxes); 4 large boxes (December 2004 donation)

Name of creator(s): Roland Mathias


Administrative/Biographical history: Roland Mathias is a poet, editor, critic and historian.
Roland Glyn Mathias was born in 1915 in Talybont-on-Usk, Breconshire, the eldest of three children of Muriel and Evan Mathias. His mother, a former pupil-teacher, was raised locally, and his father was a native of Llanelli, whose family originated from Carmarthenshire. Evan Mathias served as an army chaplain and spent a number of years abroad during Roland's childhood, and following the First World War the family accompanied him to Germany. On their return to England, Roland Mathias was educated at Caterham School, Surrey, and Jesus College, Oxford, where he graduated with First Class Honours in Modern History, 1936. He completed a B.Litt. thesis on 'The Economic Policy of the Board of Trade 1696-1714', in 1939, and subsequently obtained an M.A., 1944. In 1944 Roland Mathias married Mary Annie (Molly) Hawes, and they have three children, Jonathan Glyn and Mary (twins) and Ceinwen.
Roland Mathias began his teaching career at Cowley Boys' Grammar School, St Helens, in 1938, and was later engaged at the Bluecoat School, Reading, 1942, Carlisle Boys' Grammar School, 1945, and St Clement Danes Grammar School, London, 1946. He was registered to undertake non-combatant duties in support of the war effort in 1940, and imprisoned as a Conscientious Objector on two occasions.
Roland Mathias was appointed Headmaster of Pembroke Grammar School in 1948, and the headmasterships of the Herbert Strutt School, Belper (1958-1964), and King Edward's Five Ways School, Birmingham (1964-1969), followed before he resigned in 1969 to become a full-time writer. During this period Roland Mathias was awarded schoolmaster-fellowships at Balliol College, Oxford (1961), and University College, Swansea (1967), and was a member of several educational bodies and committees.
Roland Mathias's first book of poetry, Days enduring, was published in 1942. Whilst living in Reading in 1944 he founded and co-edited an arts magazine, Here Today, which provided an outlet for his poems and literary criticism. In 1946 his second volume of poetry, Break in harvest, appeared, followed by The roses of Tretower (1952), and The flooded valley (1960). Later volumes of poetry, Absalom in the tree (1971) and Snipe's Castle (1979), were awarded Welsh Arts Council Prizes. In addition, he published a collection of short stories, The eleven men of Eppynt (1956); historical work such as Whitsun riot (1963); and studies of Anglo-Welsh literature and writers, including his critique of Vernon Watkins for the Writers of Wales series (Cardiff, 1974), The hollowed-out elder stalk: John Cowper Powys as poet (1979), and A ride through the wood: essays on Anglo-Welsh literature (1985). He also edited, and contributed to, numerous other works. During 1949 Roland Mathias appointed Raymond Garlick as an English teacher at Pembroke Dock, and both were among the group who established the Dock Leaves Press and the magazine Dock Leaves (later known as The Anglo-Welsh Review). He became a prolific contributor to this journal, and succeeded Raymond Garlick as editor from 1961-1975.
Roland Mathias was a part-time lecturer in the Extra-Mural Department of the University of Cardiff between 1970-1977, and made several tours abroad as a visiting lecturer to universities in Brittany (1970), the United States and Canada. He was elected a member of the Welsh Arts Council, 1970-1979, and Chairman of its Literature Committee, 1976-1979, and also served as Chair of Yr Academi Gymreig (English Language Section), 1975-1978. He was honoured by the Welsh Arts Council in 1968 for services to writing in Wales, and in 1985 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa by the University of Georgetown, Washington DC.


Scope and content/abstract: The archive described here comprises papers formerly known as the Roland Mathias MSS (originally placed on deposit at NLW and converted to a donation in 1994), together with donations, 1993-2003. It includes mostly correspondence, and papers relating to The Anglo-Welsh Review, his literary works, and professional career as a teacher and headmaster. Also included is a group of personal and family papers, together with works by Dora Polk.


Language/scripts of material: English unless otherwise specified.

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW into five series: correspondence, The Anglo-Welsh Review (Dock Leaves), literary papers, professional papers, and personal and family papers; and one file: Dora Polk papers. Most of the items within individual files were arranged by Roland Mathias.

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 Roland Mathias copyright should be directed to Roland Mathias (information from the Watch file (Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders),, December 2003).

Finding aids: A hard copy of this list is available at NLW. This list supersedes NLW Minor Lists and Summaries 1982, p. 40, which describes the mss deposited in 1981 and subsequently converted to a donation in 1994.


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

Accruals: Accruals are expected.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by Roland Mathias, Brecon, in August 1981 (converted to a donation in 1994), and donated by him in November 1993, February 1994, July 1995, July 1996, July 1997, November 1998, October 2001, and August 2003. A further donation was received December 2004.


Related material: Correspondence relating to Roland Mathias is held among The Welsh Academy Papers at NLW (EAR1/21 and EER18/7). A dissertation (University of Glamorgan, 2002) by S. J. Adams entitled, 'The poetry and short stories of Roland Mathias', is also held at NLW (PM 102). A recording, 'Roland Mathias. Poets of Wales', is held by the The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales at NLW (ref. 33/000061). The Anglo-Welsh Review archive, comprising mainly of editor's correspondence files, printer's copies and galley proofs, is held at NLW. Some manuscripts and letters of Roland Mathias are held in the Lockwood Library, State University of New York, Buffalo. Recordings of 'Locality and grief', a talk given at the Anglo-Welsh Poetry Festival, 1983, and readings by Roland Mathias of his own work at the Cambridge Poetry Festival, 1975, are held at the National Sound Archive, London. See also series/file level descriptions.


Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Siân Bowyer.
The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: The new companion to the literature of Wales (Cardiff, 1998); S. Adams, Roland Mathias (Cardiff, 1995); S. Adams, ed., The collected poems of Roland Mathias (Cardiff, 2002); Location register of twentieth-century English literary manuscripts and letters (London, 1988); J. Harris, A bibliographical guide to twenty-four modern Anglo-Welsh writers (Cardiff, 1994); Dictionary of literary biography, vol. 27; and documents contained within the Roland Mathias archive.

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

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2004

English literature | Welsh authors
English poetry | Welsh authors
Mathias, Roland | Archives

Personal names
Mathias , Roland

Corporate names


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