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National Library of Wales
Abse, Leo, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 LEOABSE

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Leo Abse Papers

Short Title: Abse, Leo, papers

Creation date(s): 1961-1996

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 2.043 cubic metres (225 boxes, 3 folders)

Name of creator(s): Leo Abse


Administrative/Biographical history: Leo Abse, politician, was born in 1917 in Cardiff, Glamorgan, the son of a Jewish family. He was educated at Howard Gardens High School and (after the Second World War) the London School of Economics. His younger brother is the poet and author Dannie Abse. Leo Abse left school to work as a factory worker, becoming involved in political activity, and displaying strong sympathies with the Communist Party, visiting Spain clandestinely in 1939 during the Civil War. He served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, subsequently attended the London School of Economics, and then returned to Cardiff to study law. He joined a Cardiff law firm (of which he eventually became senior partner); he served as a member of Cardiff City Council between 1953 and 1958, and fought for the Labour Party Cardiff North in the general election of 1955. He was the first solicitor to be granted audience in the High Court in 1986. He was Labour MP for Pontypool from 1958 until 1983, and for Torfaen from 1983 until his retirement in 1987. He served as chairman of the Welsh Parliamentary Party, 1976-1987, and acted as leader of the Labour anti-devolution campaign in Wales in the 1979 Referendum. At Westminster, Abse proved an effective backbencher, acting as sponsor or co-sponsor for Private Member's Bills relating to divorce, homosexuality, family planning, legitimacy, widows' damages, industrial injuries, congenital disabilities and relief from forfeiture. He also initiated the first Commons debates on genetic engineering, Windscale, and in vitro pregnancies. He has written several books among them, Private Member (1973); Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice (1989); Wotan, My Enemy (1994), The Man Behind the Smile (1996) and Fellatio, Masochism, Politics and Love (2000).


Scope and content/abstract: General and parliamentary correspondence, 1961-1987; constituency correspondence, 1970-1987, files relating to constituency affairs, 1947-1987; files relating to the following: Welsh affairs, 1985-1987, including transport, 1959-1973; health service, 1960-1978; Welsh language and nationalism, 1966-1979; devolution, 1970-1979; Select Committee for Welsh Affairs, 1975-1985; the Labour Party, 1964-1987, mainly annual conferences and general elections; industrial affairs, 1958-1985, penal reform, 1961-1987, children, 1968-1987, abortion, 1969-1979, nuclear energy, 1977-1987, genetic engineering, [c. 1977] - 1985; and personal papers, mainly letters, [1930s]-1946, and articles, notes and diaries, [1930s]-[1980s].


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: Arranged into two groups by date of deposit. Group 1 has been arranged as follows: A general and parliamentary correspondence; B constituency correspondence; C constituency affairs; D Welsh affairs; E Labour Party ; F personal. Group 2 is arranged into political papers; personal papers, papers relating to his publications. Each class is divided into numbered sections by subject, and each document in these sections has been placed in broad chronological order and numbered.

Conditions governing access: Constituency files are closed for 50 years after the last date in each file: exemption s.40, Freedom of Information Act 2000. Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright regulations apply.

Finding aids: A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales. The catalogue is available online.

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records donated to the National Library of Wales have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are possible.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by Leo Abse, London, in two groups, Group 1 (mainly political papers) in 1990, and Group 2 (political papers after 1987, personal papers, and papers relating to his books), 1999.



Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Seri Crawley for the ANW project. The following sources were used to compile this description: NLW, Schedule of Leo Abse Papers; Who's Who 2003; Debrett's People of Today, November 2003.

Rules or conventions: This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition, AACR2, and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: January 2003

Abortion | Government policy | Great Britain
Abse, Leo | Archives
Child care | Great Britain
Criminals | Rehabilitation | Great Britain
Decentralization in government | Great Britain | Wales
Election districts | Wales | Pontypool
Election districts | Wales | Torfaen
Genetic engineering | Government policy | Great Britain
Labour Party (Great Britain) | Wales | Records and correspondence
Nationalism | Wales
Nuclear energy | Government policy | Great Britain
Politicians | Wales | Archives
Politicians | Wales | Diaries
Pontypool (Wales) | Politics and government
Public health | Great Britain
Torfaen (Wales) | Politics and government
Welsh language

Personal names
Abse , Leo

Corporate names
Great Britain | Parliament. House of Commons. Committee on Welsh Affairs
Labour Party (Great Britain)

Pontypool (Wales)
Torfaen (Wales)

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