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National Library of Wales
John, Edwin and Sara, correspondence

Reference code(s): GB 0210 MSEDJOHN

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Edwin and Sara John Correspondence

Short Title: John, Edwin and Sara, correspondence

Creation date(s): 1911-1994, [?2005]

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 4 volumes

Name of creator(s):


Administrative/Biographical history: Gwendolen Mary John (Gwen John) (1876-1939), artist, was born on 22 June 1876 in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, to Edwin and Augusta John, and was raised in Tenby. She attended the Slade School of Fine Art, London, from 1895 to 1898. In 1904 she settled in Paris, moving to the suburb of Meudon in 1911. She died in Dieppe, France, on 18 September 1939.
Gwen John's younger brother, Augustus Edwin John (1878-1961), artist, was born in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, and became a leading British portrait painter. He married Ida Nettleship (1877-1907) in 1901 and they had five children: David (b. 1902), Caspar (1903-1984), Robin (b. 1904), Edwin (1905-1978) and Henry (1907-1935). Dorelia McNeill (1881-1969), his mistress and, following Ida's death, his common-law wife, gave him a further four children: Pyramus (1905-1912), Romilly (1906-1986), Elizabeth Ann (Poppet) (1912-1997) and Vivien (1915-1994). The family settled at Alderney Manor, Dorset, and from 1927 at Fryern Court, Fordingbridge, Hampshire. Augustus died there on 31 October 1961.
Edwin John, after a brief career as a boxer, became a watercolour artist. He lived in Paris for some years in the mid-1930s and, possibly as a result, was made executor and chief legatee to his aunt, Gwen John, on her death in 1939. He married Beatrice D. Barry in 1932; their son Ben was born in 1935 and their daughter Sara in 1946.


Scope and content/abstract: Correspondence of Edwin John and Sara John, 1911-1994, including letters to Edwin John from Augustus John, Gwen John, Dorelia McNeill and other family members, 1928-1975, and from Mary Taubman, 1953-1977; and letters to Sara John from Augustus John, Dorelia McNeill and other family members, 1959-1994, in particular Romilly John, 1968-1986; and a copy, [?2005], of a painting by Edwin John.


Language/scripts of material: English, French.

System of arrangement: Arranged according to NLW MSS references numbers: NLW MSS 23919-23922.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions set out in information provided when applying for their Readers' Tickets, whereby the reader shall become responsible for compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to any processing by them of personal data obtained from modern records held at the Library.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply. Information regarding the ownership of Augustus John and Gwen John copyright can be found at (viewed April 2012).

Finding aids:


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

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Purchased from Miss Sara John, Oswestry (with NLW ex 2293-7 and NLW Facs 975), January 2004 (0200401714, 0200401716, 0200401717.)


Related material: Among the manuscripts and archives at NLW relating to Augustus and Gwen John are NLW, Augustus John Papers; NLW, Gwen John Manuscripts; NLW, Michael Holroyd (Augustus and Gwen John) Manuscripts; NLW, Michael Holroyd (Augustus John) Research Papers; and NLW, Mary Taubman Papers (uncatalogued).


Note: Title based on contents.

Archivist's note: Description compiled by Rhys Morgan Jones. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Michael Holroyd, Augustus John: The New Biography (London, 1996); Sue Roe, Gwen John: A Life (London, 2001); Mary Taubman, Gwen John: The Artist and Her Work (London, 1985).

Rules or conventions: Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: April 2012

John, Augustus, | 1878-1961 | Correspondence
John, Augustus, | 1878-1961 | Family | Correspondence
John, Edwin | Correspondence
John, Gwen, | 1876-1939 | Correspondence
John, Romilly | Correspondence
John, Sara G. | Correspondence
McNeill, Dorelia, | 1881-1969 | Correspondence
Taubman, Mary | Correspondence

Personal names
John , Augustus , 1878-1961
John , Edwin
John , Gwen , 1876-1939
John , Romilly
John , Sara G.
McNeill , Dorelia , 1881-1969
Taubman , Mary

Corporate names


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