Raymond Williams Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of notebooks and research material; manuscripts and typescripts of original, amended and final versions of novels, dramatic works, poetry and academic writings, as well as juvenilia; published reviews, lectures and articles; newspapers including TwentyOne (weekly paper of the 21st Anti-Tank Regiment) and The University Journal (weekly paper of Cambridge University); correspondence; photographs and other personal papers. The collection also includes papers relating to Joyce Williams. These include personal papers such as obituaries of Raymond Williams and letters of condolence, and papers relating to publications. In addition there is a small collection of material relating to Henry and Gwendolene Williams, his parents, including a series of diaries kept by Henry Williams. Research notes, draft text and other documents connected with the writing of 'Raymond Williams: A Warrior's Tale', the biography of Raymond Williams' life until 1961, by Dai Smith complete the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Raymond Henry Williams (1921-1988), was born in Pandy, near Abergavenny, the only child of Henry Joseph Williams and (Esther) Gwendolene. He attended King Henry VIII Grammar School, Abergavenny, and later read English at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was called up in 1941 and fought with the no.21 anti-tank regiment. On returning to Cambridge in 1945 he completed his degree. Between 1946 and 1964 he was involved with adult education, being a staff tutor of the Oxford University extra-mural delegacy. In 1961 he returned to Cambridge as a lecturer in English and a fellow of Jesus College, becoming a reader of drama between 1967 and 1974. He was made the university's first professor of drama in 1974 and retired in 1983. His writing of both fiction and non-fiction was extensive. With Clifford Collins and Wolf Mankowitz he founded and edited 'The Critic' and 'Politics and Letters' in 1947-1948. As well as writing books about drama and literature, such as 'Drama in Performance' and 'Writing in Society', his work encompassed wider social and political matters, including 'May Day Manifesto' and 'Towards 2000'. He also wrote many reviews and articles, including regular pieces for 'The Guardian' and 'The Listener'. His novels started with 'Border Country' and finished with the incomplete historical series 'People of the Black Mountains'. He married Joyce (Joy) Mary Dalling in 1942, and they had one daughter and two sons. Joy Williams was closely involved with her husband's work, through from the development of ideas to the publication of his work.

Conditions Governing Access

Access unrestricted unless stated otherwise within the catalogue.

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue is available through the Swansea University website.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by K. Legg. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: 'Raymond Williams: A Warrior's Tale', Dai Smith (Cardigan, 2008); Dai Smith 'Williams, Raymond Henry (1921-1988), rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition 2009; 'A Bibliographical Guide to Twenty-Four Modern Anglo-Welsh Writers', John Harris (Cardiff, 1994).

Related Material

Other material relating to Raymond Williams is held at the National Library of Wales (GB 0210 RAYWILL)

Location of Originals

Some items are photocopies from collections held at National Library of Wales, BBC Archive, Reading University, Abergavenny Grammar School and elsewhere.


'Raymond Williams: A Warrior's Tale', Dai Smith (Cardigan, 2008)