T Gwynn Jones and Arthur ap Gwynn Papers

Scope and Content

The papers include manuscript material created and collected by T Gwynn Jones and Arthur ap Gwynn; card indexes compiled by Arthur ap Gwynn, and a small number of personal items.

Administrative / Biographical History

Thomas Gwynn Jones was born at Gwyndy Uchaf, Betws-yn-Rhos, Denbighshire on October 10 1871, the eldest son of Isaac and Jane Jones. His father was a farmer, but also a Methodist preacher who wrote poetry and prose himself. Christened Thomas Jones, he began taking the name Gwynn (from the name of his home, Gwyndy) from about 1890 onwards, using Gwynvre ap Iwan and other variations as bardic pseudonyms.

Jones received his formal education at the elementary schools of Llanelian, Old Colwyn and Denbigh. He was subsequently taught in mathematics, Latin and Greek by a neighbour, with a view to attending university at Oxford. But his poor health meant that he had to abandon this ambition, leaving him to educate himself.

In 1891, Jones began his journalistic career, working for Thomas Gee at Y Faner. From here, he moved to work at Y Cymro, but had returned to take up the post of assistant editor by 1895. He subsequently spent periods working for various Welsh newspapers, including the North Wales Times, Yr Herald Cymraeg, Papur Pawb and Y Genedl Gymreig, and became editor of Y Cymro in 1907. It was during this period that he married Margaret Jane Davies of Denbigh, with whom he would have three children.

1909 saw Jones abandoned journalism. He was offered a position as cataloguer at the newly established National Library of Wales, and hence moved to Aberystwyth, where he would remain for the rest of his life. In 1913, he was appointed to the staff of the Welsh Department at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he would hold the Gregynog Chair of Welsh Literature from 1919 until his retirement in 1937.

During his youth, Jones was strongly influenced by Emrys ap Iwan, who encouraged him to look beyond the nineteenth century at the roots of Welsh literature, and to look beyond Wales for literary inspiration. This led to his interest in celtic languages. He made several visits to Ireland during his lifetime, resulting in, amongst other works on the subject, Iwerddon (1919), Peth Nas Lleddir (1921) and Awen y Gwyddyll (1922). In 1914, Jones took his MA at Aberystwyth, producing a work on 'Bardism and Romance'. During his career, he also wrote biographical works on figures such as Thomas Gee and Emrys ap Iwan, along with works on Welsh literature and folklore.

Jones had begun composing poetry in cynghanedd strict metre during the 1880s. His early efforts won him prizes at many local eisteddfods, and were published in various Welsh journals and newspapers. In 1902, he won the chair at the National Eisteddfod, Bangor, for his composition, 'Ymadawiad Arthur'. He won the chair once more in 1909, with 'Gwlad y Bryniau', and his poetry is now widely published in collections such as Y Dwymyn.

Jones is also recognised as a talented translator, producing many Welsh versions of English and European classics, including Macbeth and Faust. He published many novels, plays, a travel book, autobiographical reminiscences, and a book of children's poetry. He also composed words to accompany music, and worked with the Professor of Music at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, David de Lloyd, on several occasions.

In 1937, Jones retired from his position at the university. That year, he received an honorary DLitt from both the University of Wales and the University of Ireland, and was also made a CBE. On his death in 1949, at 77 years of age, an issue of Y Llenor was produced in his honour, containing warm tributes from his closest friends.

Arthur ap Gwynn was born on November 4 1902 in Caernarfon, the second of three children to T Gwynn Jones and his wife Margaret Jane. Arthur and his family moved to Aberystwyth in 1909, and he attended the town's Ardwyn School. In 1919, he entered the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and graduated with first class honours in Welsh in 1923, going on to receive his MA in 1926.

On leaving university, ap Gwynn succeeded Ifano Jones as Welsh Librarian at Cardiff Public Library. It was here that he began his editorship of the Subject Index to Welsh Periodicals. In 1932 he returned to Aberystwyth as University Librarian, and he married his wife Catherine the following year. During the Second World War, ap Gwynn served with the Swansea Fire Service, but returned to his post in Aberystwyth in 1945. He remained University Librarian until his retirement in 1968, having overseen a period of great change and expansion within the University Library service.

In conjunction with his father, ap Gwynn published a Welsh/English, English/Welsh dictionary in 1950. After retirement, such work became increasingly important to him. His interest in Welsh literature, folk-tales and antiquaries grew, and he also produced revised editions of many of his father's publications. He died at his home in the village of Eglwys-Fach, near Aberystwyth, 10 December 1987.

Access Information

The papers may be consulted through application by e-mail to: archives@aber.ac.uk or by post to: Aberystwyth University, Archives, Information Services, Llandinam Building, Penglais, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DB. Tel: 01970 628593.

Acquisition Information

The papers were donated to the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, on the death of Mr Arthur ap Gwynn, 1987.


Description compiled by Rhian Phillips, Archives Hub project archivist, with reference to R T Jenkins and E D Jones (eds), Y Bywgraffiadur Cymreig, 1941-1950, (London: Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1970), p.33-34; The Cambrian News, 25/12/1987, and T G Lloyd, 'Arthur ap Gwynn: A Tribute', Y Ddolen: Journal of the Welsh Library Association, Spring 1988.

Other Finding Aids

Basic finding aid available on request from Archives staff.

Related Material

Further papers of T Gwynn Jones are held by the Department of Manuscripts and Records, National Library of Wales.