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National Library of Wales
Williams, G. J., Athro, papurau

Reference code(s): GB 0210 GJWILL

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Papurau'r Athro Griffith John Williams

Short Title: Williams, G. J., Athro, papurau

Creation date(s): [late16 century]-1979, with gaps (acquired 1911-1979)

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 0.957 cubic metres (78 boxes)

Name of creator(s): Professor Griffith John Williams (1892-1963)


Administrative/Biographical history: Griffith John Williams (1892-1963) was one of the most eminent Welsh scholars and professors of his period.
He was born at Cellan Court, namely Cellan Post Office, Cardiganshire, on 19 July 1892, the son of John and Anne Williams. His mother's maiden name was Griffiths. He received his early education at Cellan and Tregaron schools. In 1911, the recipient of the Cynddelw Scholarship, he went to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he graduated in Welsh in 1914.
From 1914 to 1915 he was a teacher at Dolgellau County School, and then, from 1915 to 1916, at Porth County School in the Rhondda. He then returned to Aberystwyth to undertake research work on Middle Welsh texts, and was awarded the degree of MA for his thesis 'The verbal forms in the Mabinogion and Bruts'. In the meantime he had also begun to undertake research into the Llanover manuscripts presented to the National Library of Wales in 1917, and he began to take an interest in the life and work of Iolo Morganwg. At the Neath National Eisteddfod, 1918, he won a prize for an essay on 'Beirdd Morgannwg hyd ddiwedd y ddeunawfed ganrif' ['The poets of Glamorgan until the end of the eighteenth century']. In 1919 he published in Y Beirniad articles relating to the work of Iolo Morganwg. On the basis of this he was awarded a fellowship by the University of Wales to continue with his researches in this field, and, from 1919 until 1920, he undertook research under the supervision of Sir John Morris-Jones. In 1921 he was awarded a prize at the Caernarfon National Eisteddfod for a long, detailed study on the link between Iolo Morganwg and the sixteen poems ('cywyddau') included in 'Y Chwanegiad' [The Addition] to Barddoniaeth Dafydd ab Gwilym (1789).
Griffith John Williams also competed in the poetry competitions of the National Eisteddfod. He won prizes at the Corwen National Eisteddfod, 1919, for the three telynogion, the sonnet, the piece of poetry for recitation, and for composing verses for the harp. At the Barry National Eisteddfod in 1920 he won prizes for his telyneg 'Gwladys Ddu' and his sonnet 'Llanilltud Fawr'. However, he ceased to write poetry as he devoted his energies to researching the life and work of Iolo Morganwg. In 1921 he was appointed a lecturer in the Welsh Department of the University College of South Wales, Cardiff. In 1946 he succeeded W. J. Gruffydd as Professor of Welsh at the university college.
Amongst G. J. Williams's many publications are Gramadegau'r Penceirddiaid (1933), namely a standard text of the grammar of the poets in the Middle Ages with an authoritative introduction on the manuscript sources and on the education of the poets. He also undertook a thorough study of the work of Welsh scholars of the Renaissance, and his outstanding work in this field was his edition of Gramadeg Cymraeg Gruffydd Robert (1939). He also made an important contribution to research into the literature and learning of the seventeenth century, the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, including standard studies of the work of Stephen Hughes, Charles Edwards, Edward Lhuyd, William Owen [-Pughe] and others. He demonstrated the key role of the Welsh societies at London, especially the Cymmrodorion and the Gwyneddigion, in the development of the Welsh literature of a more recent period. It is certain, however, that G. J. Williams undertook his most important work on the literary traditions of Glamorgan. In 1926 his successful 1921 eisteddfod essay was published under the title Iolo Morganwg a Chywyddau'r Ychwanegiad. In 1948 Traddodiad Llenyddol Morgannwg was published, and then in 1956, after studying the additional papers transferred to the National Library by Iolo Aneurin Williams, Iolo Morganwg: y gyfrol gyntaf saw the light of day.
After his retirement in 1957 Griffith John Williams continued to edit the journal LlĂȘn Cymru which he was primarily responsible for its establishment in 1950. In 1959 he delivered the O'Donnell Lecture in the constituent colleges of the University of Wales on the theme 'Edward Lhuyd'. He was a regular adjudicator at the national eisteddfod, he lectured to local societies, and in 1960 he was elected the first president of Yr Academi Gymreig (the Welsh Academy). He also served as a member of the editorial board of Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (the University of Wales Dictionary) and, from 1959 until 1961, he was the chairman of the committee of Pwyllgor Amgueddfa Werin Sain Ffagan (the Welsh Folk Museum at St Fagans). He was also an enthusiastic collector of old Welsh books.
Griffith John Williams married Elizabeth Elen Roberts, Blaenau Ffestiniog, in 1922. She had been a fellow-student of his at Aberystwyth from 1910 and 1914. She had worked as a Welsh teacher at the Girls County School, Treforest, Pontypridd, 1914-1918, and at Ebbw Vale County School, Monmouth from 1918 until 1922.
Elizabeth Williams was a great help to her husband in his research work, and, like him, she was deeply interested in Welsh life and the Welsh language. Both of them were members of the small group in the 1920s who founded Y Mudiad Cymreig which later developed into Plaid Cymru.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection comprises the papers of Professor Griffith John Williams (1892-1963), Professor of Welsh, University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff. Amongst them are correspondence, 1911-1962, personal papers, 1868-1963, publications and research papers, [1911x1979], together with a small group of manuscripts collected by him, [late 16th century]-[?1939]. There is also a small group of the papers of his wife, Elizabeth, 1875-1978.


Language/scripts of material: Welsh, English unless noted otherwise.

System of arrangement: Arranged at NLW on the basis of provenance into four groups: correspondence and personal papers; manuscripts collected; publications and research papers; and the papers of Mrs Elizabeth Williams.

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: Galley proofs of some of the issues of LlĂȘn Cymru have been destroyed.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Bequeathed to the National Library by Mrs Elizabeth Williams, widow of Griffith John Williams, in 1979. See also file P1/10.


Related material: Griffith John Williams's library has also been presented to the National Library, and there are postcards in the photographic collection at NLW in Photographic Volume 4221, size B.


Note: The date of the earliest material pre-dates G. J. Williams's date of birth as the archive includes papers collected by him. The last date is later than his year of death as the archive includes the papers of his wife Mrs Elizabeth Williams who died in 1979.

Archivist's note: Compiled by J. Graham Jones for the ANW project. The following source was used in the compilation of this description: NLW, Schedule of Papurau Griffith John Williams.

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

Date(s) of descriptions: September 2006

Scholars | Wales | Archives
Williams, G. J. | (Griffith John) | Archives

Personal names
Williams , G. J. (Griffith John)

Corporate names


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