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National Library of Wales
Davies, W. H., manuscripts

Reference code(s): GB 0210 MSWHDAV

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: W. H. Davies MSS

Short Title: Davies, W. H., manuscripts

Creation date(s): [c. 1916], [c. 1959]-1979.

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 2 volumes

Name of creator(s): William Henry Davies; Lloyd Tyrrell-Kenyon, 5th baron Kenyon.


Administrative/Biographical history: William Henry Davies, poet and writer, was born in Newport, Pembrokeshire. His father died when Davies was three, and, following his mother's remarriage, the children were adopted by their grandparents. Davies was educated at schools in Newport and afterwards apprenticed to a picture-frame-maker. At the age of twenty-two, he obtained a passage for New York, arriving in the United States with only a few dollars in his pockets. He thereafter began the career which he described in his Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908) - tramping thousands of miles across America, most often begging but also undertaking casual work and riding illicitly on freight trains. En route to the gold-diggings at the Klondike, Davies fell under a moving train, severing his right foot; his right leg was subsequently amputated below the knee. Davies eventually returned to Wales, then moved to London, where he lived in common lodging-houses, pedalling wares and preaching on street corners. He finally found a publisher for his poems and, between 1905 and 1939, published several slim volumes of poetry; it was during this period also that Davies befriended the poet Edward Thomas and his wife Helen. Davies produced four novels, including The True Traveller (1912) and The Adventures of Johnny Walker, Tramp (1926); other prose works included Beggars (1909), Nature (1914) and My Birds and my Garden (1933). He also edited several poetic anthologies and was joint editor of a monthly magazine called Form. Davies met his wife Helen at a bus stop in a poor part of London; they married in 1923 but had no children. Their relationship is celebrated in Love Poems (1935) and the posthumously published Young Emma (1980). Davies died at Nailsworth in Gloucestershire. The publication of W. H. Davies: Selected Poems in 1985 revived interest in a poet one feels was not truly appreciated during his colourful lifetime.


Scope and content/abstract: Papers of, or relating to, poet and writer William Henry Davies and comprising autograph fair copies, [c. 1916], of fifteen poems by Davies, some of then apparently unpublished, submitted to James Guthrie for publication by the Pear Tree Press under the title Quiet Streams, together with a letter, 1916, from Davies to Guthrie; and a manuscript bibliography of published works by Davies, [c. 1958]-1979, compiled by Lloyd Tyrrell-Kenyon, 5th baron Kenyon of Gredington.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 23279-23280.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their Readers' Tickets.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply.

Finding aids: Description based on Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IX (Aberystwyth, 2003).


Accruals: No accruals expected.

Archival history: Formerly in the possession of Lloyd Tyrrell-Kenyon, 5th baron Kenyon of Gredington, Shropshire.

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by the Friends of the National Libraries, in memory of Lloyd Tyrrell-Kenyon, 1994.


Related material: See also NLW MS 21629B, which contains ten holograph poems by W. H. Davies.


Note: Title based on contents.

Archivist's note: Description compiled by Bethan Ifans for the retrospective conversion project of NLW MSS. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Handlist of Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales, Volume IX (Aberystwyth, 2003); Oxford Dictionary of National Biography WWW site.

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

Date(s) of descriptions: March 2009


Personal names
Davies , W. H. (William Henry) , 1871-1940
Kenyon , Lloyd , 1917-1993.

Corporate names


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