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National Library of Wales
Rees, Goronwy, papers

Reference code(s): GB 0210 GORONRS

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Goronwy Rees Papers

Short Title: Rees, Goronwy, papers

Creation date(s): 1910-2000

Level of description: Fonds.

Extent: 3 small boxes (0.027 cubic metres)

Name of creator(s): Goronwy Rees


Administrative/Biographical history: (Morgan) Goronwy Rees (1909-1979) was born at Aberystwyth on 29 November 1909, the youngest child of the Revd R. J. Rees (1868-1963), the minister of the famous Tabernacle Calvinistic Methodist chapel in the town. In 1923 the family moved to Roath in Cardiff and Goronwy Rees was educated at Cardiff High School for Boys (1923-1928) and New College, Oxford, where he graduated with first class honours in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He was elected to a prize fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, later undertook research at Berlin, and was a leader writer on the staff of the Manchester Guardian from 1932 until 1935. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Goronwy Rees mobilized as a gunner in the 90th field regiment. He saw active service in the war years with some distinction and held a variety of occupations thereafter. In 1951 he was appointed bursar of Old Souls College, Oxford, and from 1953 until 1956 he was the Principal of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth. Now Rees's relationship with Guy Burgess, whom he had first befriended in 1934, returned to haunt him, especially in 1956 when the Principal published in The People newspaper a series of quite sensational articles about Burgess's activities and his lifestyle. Such was the local outcry at Aberystwyth that Rees himself felt that he had little alternative but to resign the position of Aberystwyth Principal the following year. Subsequently, facing financial difficulties, Rees developed a successful new career as a writer and journalist. His output included two fascinating and highly readable volumes of autobiography A Bundle of Sensations (1960) and A Chapter of Accidents (1972). He also appeared on the BBC television series The Brains Trust. Following the death of his wife in 1976, Goronwy Rees died at London on 12 December 1979. The precise truth about his associations with espionage and security during the years of the Cold War will always elude historians and writers.


Scope and content/abstract: A small group of the papers of (Morgan) Goronwy Rees (1909-1979), former Principal of the University College of Wales Aberystwyth, 1953-1957, including correspondence, articles, notebooks and photographs. They relate mostly to Goronwy Rees's literary work, his resignation as Principal of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and his links to the Cambridge Spy Ring and Soviet espionage.


Language/scripts of material: English.

System of arrangement: Arranged according to content at NLW into four series: working papers; accumulated papers; correspondence; and personal papers.

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:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All papers transferred to NLW have been retained.

Accruals: Accurals are not expected.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by Ms Jenny Rees, Cadiz, October 2006.


Related material: Further papers relating to Goronwy Rees held at NLW are UCW Aberystwyth, Goronwy Rees Enquiry Papers.


Note: Titles of most descriptions have been supplied from the contents. Original titles of files, where known, have been retained and are indicated at file level.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Teresa Cody. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Goronwy Rees, A Bundle of Sensations (Chatto & Windus, 1960); Goronwy Rees, A Chapter of Accidents (Chatto & Windus, 1972); UCW, Aberystwyth, Goronwy Rees Enquiry Papers, held at NLW; Jenny Rees, Looking for Mr Nobody The Secret life of Goronwy Rees (Phoenix Giant, 2nd ed., 1997) and the Enigma Variations: Five lives of Goronwy Rees, The New Welsh Review, no. 29 (1995).

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

Date(s) of descriptions: January 2009

Espionage, Soviet | Great Britain
Rees, Goronwy, | 1909- | Archives
Spies | Great Britain

Personal names
Rees , Goronwy , 1909-

Corporate names
University College of Wales (Aberystwyth, Wales)


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