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National Library of Wales
Chamberlain, Brenda, manuscripts

Reference code(s): GB 0210 MSBREAIN

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Brenda Chamberlain MSS

Short Title: Chamberlain, Brenda, manuscripts

Creation date(s): 1936-1971

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 4 vols

Name of creator(s): Brenda Chamberlain; Karl von Laer


Administrative/Biographical history: Writer and artist Brenda Chamberlain was born and raised in Bangor, Caernarfonshire, and educated privately before embarking on her art studies at the Royal Academy, London in 1931. In 1935 Chamberlain married the artist John Petts. The following year the couple moved to Llanllechid, where they set up the Caseg Press, producing postcards and bookplates, and also the Caseg Broadsheets - featuring poetry by Chamberlain and others - with the poet and writer Alun Lewis. Chamberlain's marriage to Petts ended in 1946. Thereafter she lived briefly in Germany before settling on Bardsey Island, where she wrote and painted until, in 1961, she moved to the Greek island of Idhra. In 1967 Chamberlain returned to Bangor, where she died in 1971. Amongst Chamberlain's major published works are the poetic anthology The Green Heart (1958) (dedicated to Karl von Laer), Tide-Race (1962), an account of her life on Bardsey, her only novel The Water Castle (1964), A Rope of Vines (1965), chronicling her time on Idhra, Poems With Drawings (1969), and Alun Lewis and the Making of the Caseg Broadsheets (1969).


Scope and content/abstract: Papers, 1936-1971, of artist and writer Brenda Chamberlain, comprising a draft, [1953x1962], of her only novel The Water-Castle (London, 1964); letters, 1936-1969, from Brenda Chamberlain to Alan Clodd of the Enitharmon Press, relating mainly to the publication of her Poems with Drawings (London, 1969) and Alun Lewis and the making of the Caseg Broadsheets (London, 1969), and letters, 1952-1971, to Brenda Chamberlain from Karl von Laer at Löhne, Germany; drafts, [1941-1942], of both published and apparently unpublished poems by Brenda Chamberlain; together with sketches, poems and photographs, 1936-1969, etc. Additional papers (4 boxes), [c. 1928]-1970, of Brenda Chamberlain, donated in 2001, remain uncatalogued. They comprise correspondence, notebooks and diaries, sketch books, broadsheets, some printed material, woodcuts, sketches, slides and photographs, a few letters sent by her mother to her father, Tom Chamberlain, and drafts of works and a notebook belonging to Peter Petts.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: Arranged according to NLW MSS reference numbers: NLW MSS 22493-22494, 23381-23382.

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, Volumes VIII and IX (Aberystwyth, 1999 and 2003).

Detailed catalogue


Accruals: Accruals may be expected (some items are currently uncatalogued)

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: NLW MSS 22493-22494 were donated anonymously in 1973, to be kept under seal, at the donor's request, until 1985; NLW MS 23381 was purchased from Mr Alan Clodd of London in 1995; NLW MS 23382 was donated by Mrs Gweno M. Lewis, Aberystwyth, widow of Alun Lewis, in 1995. Four boxes of papers donated by Mrs Joan Rees, Bangor, in June 2001, remain uncatalogued.


Related material: Further manuscripts of Brenda Chamberlain are the currently uncatalogued NLW MSS 18969, 20798-20799, 20809, 21484-21525 (the latter series described in the NLW typescript list Brenda Chamberlain Manuscripts (1973); see also the John Petts MSS (23207-23213), especially NLW MS 23207F, which contains letters, 1934-1968, to John Petts from Brenda Chamberlain; see also NLW Welsh Arts Council 3 and NLW Gwyn Jones 72/17-107.


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, Volumes VIII and IX (Aberystwyth, 1999, 2003); Archives Network Wales online (viewed 9 April 2009)

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

Date(s) of descriptions: April 2009

Chamberlain, Brenda | Correspondence

Personal names
Chamberlain , Brenda

Corporate names


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