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National Library of Wales
Williams, Emlyn, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 EMLWILLS

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Emlyn Williams Papers

Short Title: Williams, Emlyn, papers

Creation date(s): 1898-1989

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 1.116 cubic metres (32 boxes, 11 scrapbooks)

Name of creator(s): Emlyn Williams


Administrative/Biographical history: Emlyn Williams (1905-1987) from Mostyn, Flintshire, was an actor, writer and playwright of international renown. He was born as George Emlyn Williams and started using the name Emlyn Williams in 1927. With the assistance of his French teacher, Sarah Grace Cooke (d. 1964), he won a scholarship to Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1923 (the events were later fictionalised in 'The Corn is Green'). Upon graduating, he pursued a successful acting career, appearing on the stage in 'The Frightened Lady', and becoming a mainstay of the British film industry in the 1930s, working on Hitchcock's 'Jamaica Inn' and other films, writing and appearing in 'The Last Days of Dolwyn' (1949). He wrote and produced numerous stage plays, including 'A Murder Has Been Arranged' (1930), 'Night Must Fall' (1935), 'The Corn is Green' (1938), 'The Wind of Heaven' (1945), and 'Accolade' (1951), and adaptations of Turgenev's 'A Month in the Country' (1957), Ibsen's 'The Master Builder' (1964), and created one-man shows from the works of Saki, Dylan Thomas and Charles Dickens; many of these were reworked as TV plays and films. His stage appearances continued in London, New York and elsewhere. He continued to make TV and film appearances from the 1950s into the 1980s, notably in 'The L-shaped Room' (1962), and 'Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens' (1983). He also wrote 'George, An Early Autobiography' (1961), 'Emlyn: an early autobiography, 1927-1935' (1974), a non-fiction account of the Moors Murders, 'Beyond Belief' (1967), and the novels 'Headlong' (1980) and 'Dr Crippen's Diary' (1987). He was married to Mary Marjorie (Molly) Carus-Wilson (née O'Shann) (d. 1970) in 1935, and had two sons, Alan and Brook. He was awarded the CBE in 1962. He had many actor friends, including Richard Burton, Noël Coward, John Gielgud, Sybil Thorndike and Lillian Gish.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers relating to Emlyn Williams, 1898-1989, comprising correspondence between EW and Sarah Grace Cooke, 1917-1964; other letters and copy letters of Sarah Grace Cooke, 1928-1964; letters from EW to other teachers, 1922-1944; transcripts of correspondence between EW and Molly Williams, 1940-1944; family letters, 1942-1987; correspondence between EW and theatrical friends, 1955-1989; letters of congratulation on CBE, 1962-1963; letters of condolence on death of Molly Williams, 1970-1971; family papers, diaries and school records, 1919-1982; scrapbooks compiled by EW, containing newspaper cuttings, fan letters and other material relating to his family and works, 1869-1961; manuscripts, typescripts, printed copies and annotated drafts of staged plays, 1926-1986; manuscripts and typescripts of unpublished novels, plays and short stories, 1919-1987; scripts, with revisions, of shows on Dickens, Dylan Thomas and Saki, 1951-1987; play adaptations and translations and copies of scripts for EW's acting roles 1935-1986; newspaper reviews of EW's works and appearances, 1961-1970; theatre porgrammes, photographs, and material rleating to current affairs, 1910-1987; radio scripts, 1940-1987, and script for TV commentary on Investiture of Prince of Wales, 1969; typescripts of speeches and readings, 1950-1987; papers relating to EW's autobiographies, novels, and 'Beyond Belief', 1962-1981; miscellaneous papers, [1933]-1990, and printed books, 1898-1987.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: Arranged into the following: correspondence; family and personal; scrap-books; staged plays; unpublished works and miscellaneous writings; solo performances; adaptions and stage appearances; reviews; theatrical miscellanea; radio and television; speeches, readings and addresses; publications; miscellaneous papers; and printed material.

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: Usual copyright regulations apply.

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

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records have been retained

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history: Many of the papers had been sorted chronologically prior to deposit.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by his son, Alan Williams, in 1994.


Related material: Photographs and posters deposited with the archive are in NLW, Special Collections, and films, cassettes and audio tapes are in the National Screen and Sound Archive for Wales. The manuscript of 'The Corn is Green' is NLW MS 18970C.


Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds. Some papers post-date the death of Emlyn Williams.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Martin Locock for the ANW project. The following source was used for the compilation of this description: NLW, Emlyn Williams Papers.

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

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2003

Actors | Wales | Archives
Drama | 20th century
Dramatists, English language
Male dramatists | Wales
Theatre programmes | Great Britain
Williams, Emlyn, | 1905-1987 | Archives

Personal names
Cooke , Sarah Grace , d 1964
Williams , Emlyn , 1905-1987

Corporate names

London (England)
Mostyn (Flintshire, Wales)
New York ()

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