Dorothy Edwards papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains about 130 letters from Dorothy Edwards to her friends S. Beryl Jones and Winifred Kelly; letters to Dorothy Edwards from various correspondents including Keir Hardie (2 letters), Dora Carrington (1 letter) and David Garnett (9 letters); notebooks; diaries for 1932-1933; poems; short stories including The Spirit of Music and The True Comedian; a corrected proof of Winter Sonata (1928); photographs and a few personal items.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dorothy Edwards was born near Cardiff in 1903, the only child of Edward Edwards, a headmaster and committed socialist. She was brought up to believe in equality and in the coming revolution, reciting stirring verses at left-wing rallies for Keir Hardie and others. She was educated at her father's boys school and then at Howells School in Cardiff, going on to read Greek and philosophy at University College Cardiff. She was an excellent linguist and on graduation went to Europe, spending six months in Vienna and nine months in Florence before returning to Cardiff to live with her widowed mother, determined to make a living as a writer.

By now she had added Welsh Nationalism (although she did not speak Welsh) to the causes to which she was passionately devoted but none of this passion, or much of her experience of life except her love of music, appeared in the short stories she was writing in a cool, mannered style. However in 1927 a collection of her short stories from English and American magazines Rhapsody was published and hailed by critics as the work of a genius. After the publication of her second book, the novel Winter Sonata, in 1928 she was taken up by the London literary set and in particular by David Garnett who introduced her to the Bloomsbury Group, including the artist Dora Carrington.

Unfortunately her London friends began to tire of Dorothy's passionate outspokenness and her Welsh provincialism. They found her insufficiently impressed by or grateful for their condescension. David Garnett in particular, who had asked to adopt her as a sister, made it clear that she was no longer welcome. Dorothy Edwards returned to Cardiff to try to work on her next book but could not see a way forward. On the morning of 6 January 1934 she burnt her letters and papers and that afternoon she threw herself under a train.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to all researchers. No reader's ticket is required but an appointment is necessary. Check www.reading.ac.uk/library/special-collections/using/lib-special-using.asp for contact details and opening hours.

Acquisition Information

Deposit on indefinite loan from Mrs P. Jones, 1996

Note

Description prepared by Gil Skidmore with reference to Elaine Morgan's prefaces to the Virago Modern Classics editions of Rhapsody and Winter Sonata

Other Finding Aids

Listed at item level