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Swansea University
Berry, Ron

Reference code(s): GB 0217 WWE/1

Held at: Swansea University

Title: Ron Berry Collection

Short Title: Berry, Ron

Creation date(s): 1954-2004

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 21 boxes

Name of creator(s): Ronald Anthony [Ron] Berry


Administrative/Biographical history: Ron Berry (1920-1997) was born in Blaencwm, Rhondda Fawr, Glamorgan. He left school at the age of fourteen and began work, firstly as a collier's boy, in the local mine. At the outbreak of World War Two, Berry left the pits and served both in the army and in the merchant navy. After demobilisation, he spent some years working in a variety of jobs, including as carpenter, a steelworker and a navvy, living in both Wales and in England. He was a talented footballer, until prevented by injury from pursuing this talent, and also took up professional boxing for a time. Berry married Ethel Irene (Rene) Jones on 12 July 1947. They had five children. Berry suffered from ill health, which prevented him from finding secure work. From 1954 to 1955, he attended Coleg Harlech, Merionneth, a residential college of further education for mature students, and subsequently passed the entrance exam for Shoreditch Teacher Training College in London, although he left after two terms. He returned to the Rhondda in 1955 and settled in Treherbert, staying in the same house for the remainder of his life. It was at this point that he began to write with concentrated effort and dedication, and sought to earn a living by his writing. Berry published six novels in total: his first novel, Hunters and Hunted, was published in 1960, and his last, This Bygone, appeared in 1996, a year before his death. He also published many short stories and wrote a large number of plays, mainly for television, finding success with a handful of them. Although his novels appeared under the auspices of well established publishers such as W.H. Allen, Hutchinson and Macmillan, critical acclaim was slow in coming and Berry struggled to gain recognition in Wales as well as beyond. His writing centres upon the mining communities of the Rhondda, portraying a Rhondda which, in spite of all its shape-shifting, repeatedly has to come to terms with its own history. He viewed himself as a chronicler of a way of life that was gradually and irrevocably being lost, and sought to record, as he wrote in his autobiography (History Is What You Live, published posthumously). As a writer, he sought a realist approach, portraying his characters and their lives with affection and humour as well as with a sharply critical eye, and deftly capturing the rhythms and patterns of speech in his dialogue. Outside writing, his other main interests were in bird-watching and fly-fishing. One of his later books, Peregrine Watching (1987), takes as its subject the return of the peregrine falcon to the Rhondda. Berry was awarded a civil list pension in 1987. He died on 16 July 1997 and was cremated at Llwydcoed, near Aberdare.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection consists of drafts and proofs of published novels; drafts and proofs of unpublished novels; drafts of published short stories; drafts of unpublished short stories; drafts and rehearsal scripts of plays for television and radio; poetry; texts of non-fiction writings - autobiographical, ornithological and occasional; diaries; notebooks; correspondence; contracts and royalty statements; press cuttings and reviews; miscellaneous material.


Language/scripts of material: English unless otherwise stated within the detailed catalogue.

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access: Access unrestricted unless otherwise stated within the detailed catalogue.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids: A item level online catalogue is available through the Swansea University website.


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Related material: Other work by Ron Berry is available at the National Library of Wales (GB 0210 WELARTMSS)


Archivist's note: Compiled by K. Legg, June 2011, using descriptions created by R. Foss, May 2007.

Rules or conventions: Created following ISAD(G)

Date(s) of descriptions: May 2007

English literature | Welsh authors | 20th century

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