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Richard Burton Archives: Literature and Drama

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Sources for Literature and Drama

The Richard Burton Archives hold various collections that are of relevance to the study of literature and drama. This guide provides an overview of some of the collections and the types of literary material that they include such as novels, short stories, poetry and drama. 


Paper being fed through typewriter.

Among the collections are drafts, revisions, proofs and other papers relating to novels by various authors; the majority of these are in English.

Ron Berry
The collection includes published and unpublished novels such as Flame and Slag, Hunters and Hunted, So Long, Hector Bebb, The Full Time Amateur, This Bygone, Travelling Loaded, Below Lord’s Head Mountain, Jonesy Makes Connections and More Guts Than Sense.
Catalogue: Ron Berry Collection - Published Novels (Ref. WWE/1/1)
Catalogue: Ron Berry Collection - Unpublished Novels (Ref. WWE/1/2)

Alun Richards
The collection includes text for the maritime novels Ennal’s Point and Barque Whisper.
Collection Description: Alun Richards Collection (Ref. WWE/4)

B L Coombes 
The collection includes The Singing SycamoreThe Ash and Castell Vale.
Catalogue: B L Coombes (Ref. SWCC/MND/14)

Raymond Williams
The collection includes Border Country and the associated Border Village as well as The Fight for Manod, The Volunteers, The Grasshopper, People of the Black Mountains and many other novels.
Catalogue: Raymond Williams Collection - Novels (Ref. WWE/2/1/1)

Short Stories

Handwritten text 'Once upon a time'

The collections contain numerous short stories by various authors; the majority of these are in English. They include drafts, revisions and other papers.

B L Coombes
The collection includes:‘The Opening Door’, ‘The Watch’, ‘The Dancing Ducks’, ‘One Touch’, ‘Tate’, ‘The Inheritance’, ‘The Warning’, ‘Always’, ‘The Stranger’, ‘Atmospherics’ and ‘I Saw the Headless Horseman’.
Catalogue: B L Coombes - Short Stories (Ref. SWCC/MND/14/1/2)

Raymond Williams
The collection includes ‘Red Earth’, ‘Sugar’, ‘Mother Chapel’, ‘I Live Through the War’, ‘The Writing on the Wall’, ‘The Liberation’, ‘While Men Worked’, ‘An Old Way to Pay Old Debts’ and other short stories.
Catalogue: Raymond Williams Collection - Short Stories (Ref. WWE/2/1/2)

Ron Berry
The collection includes ‘A Hero of 1938’, ‘Blood Money’, ‘Comrades in Arms’, ‘End of Season’, ‘King of the Fo’c’s’le’, The Foxhunters’, ‘Family Lives’, ‘Routes from Roots’, ‘Boy and Girl’, ‘Natives’, ‘In Time, In Place’, ‘Jonah Raglan’, ‘Last of the Morgans’, ‘Micher’s Cover-up’, ‘Natives and Exiles’, ‘On Maintenance’, ‘Sarah-fach’, ‘The Disabled’ and many other short stories.
Catalogue: Ron Berry Collection - Published Short Stories (Ref. WWE/1/3)
Catalouge: Ron Berry Collection - Unpublished Short Stories (Ref. WWE/1/4)

Alun Richards
His collections of short stories Dai Country and The Former Miss Merthyr Tydfil and Other Stories are considered some of his finest work.
The collection includes ‘The Former Miss Merthyr Tydfil’, ‘Going to the Flames’, ‘Dream Girl’, ‘Fly Half’, ‘The Scandalous Thoughts of Elmyra Mouth’ and ‘The Monument’; typescripts for ‘The Bass’, ‘The Girls in their Winter Woollies’, ‘Stop press’ and ‘A Short and Troubled History of One’s Life and Times’.
Collection Description: Alun Richards Collection (Ref. WWE/4)

John Wade
The short stories about life in the coalfields of Wales by John Wade of Sutton, Surrey, are held within the Harold Finch collection. The collection includes ‘Body and Soul’, ‘Jerry’, Bones and Widows’ and ‘Nat o’ the Glen’.
Collection Description: Harold Finch (Ref. SWCC/MNB/PP/22)

D G and Islwyn Williams
The collection includes ‘Y Potsier’ and ‘Saron’ by D G Williams and ‘Rhaglunieth’ by Islwyn Williams.
Collection Description: D G and Islwyn Williams Collection (Ref. SWCC/MNC/PP/29)

L Baker
The short stories held are 'The Year that Cardiff City Won the F.A. Cup. The 1926-1927 Season' and 'Just William',
Collection Description: L Baker (Ref. SC341)


Ron Berry, Elaine Morgan, Alun Richards and Raymond Williams

For more information about Raymond Williams, Ron Berry, Elaine Morgan and Alun Richards see the Welsh Writers in English page.

       Cover to 'Border Country' by Raymond Williams.        Cover to 'Ennal's Point' by Alun Richards.        Cover to 'Flame and Slag' by Ron Berry.        Cover to 'The Descent of Woman' by Elaine Morgan.

Cover to 'These Poor Hands' by B L Coombes.B L Coombes
Bertie Lewis Coombes Griffiths (1893-1974) was born in Wolverhampton, brought up in Herefordshire, but later moved to South Wales. Before World War One he worked in the mines. In his forties he turned to writing and was a protégé of John Lehmann. Coombes’ works were responses to events and attitudes, he became a self appointed guardian of the truth about the mining industry and communities. The social, political, cultural and industrial context in which he was living must be understood to understand his writings and their impact and significance. The works he is best known for are These Poor Hands: The Autobiography of a Miner Working in South Wales (1939), These Clouded Hills (1944), and Miners Day (1945).
Catalogue: B L Coombes (Ref. SWCC/MND/14)

Radio listing for 'Cap Wil Tomos'.D G and Islwyn Williams
D G Williams was a writer in Welsh of plays and short stories during the mid twentieth century.
Islwyn Williams (1903-1957) was educated at Trinity College, Carmarthen and wrote in a dialect form of the Swansea Valley. His two famous short story volumes are Cap Wil Tomos (1946) and Storiau a Portreadau (1954). Many of his plays and short stories were written for radio broadcast.
Catalogue Description: D G and Islwyn Williams Collection (Ref. SWCC/MNC/PP/29)

Copy of 'Rhondda Roundabout' by Jack Jones.Jack Jones 
Jack Jones (1884-1970) was born at Tai-Harri-Blawdd in Merthyr Tydfil. During his life he worked in collieries, joining his father at the age of 12, as well as serving in the Militia Battalion of the Welch, finding himself in South Africa and India, and during World War One served on front-lines in France and Belgium, before being invalided home.

Politically aware and active throughout his life he was a member of the Communist Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Party as well as being a speaker for Mosley's New Party in the 1930s.

During his 20s Jack Jones developed his love of the theatre and writing. He wrote novels, plays and autobiographical works which frequently used the people of the South Wales Valleys and the coalfield as inspiration, such as his novel 'Rhondda Roundabout' and the play 'Land of My Fathers'. During World War Two he lectured in America and spoke to troops on the battle-fronts. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the community and to literature and in 1970 he won a Welsh Arts Council award 'his distinguished contribution to the literature of Wales'.

Collection Description: Jack Jones Collection (Ref. SWCC/MNC/PP/16)

Cover of 'The Red Dragon: The National Magazine of Wales'.Amy Dillwyn
Elizabeth Amy Dillwyn (1845-1935), was the third of four children was born into a wealthy and distinguished Swansea family. During her thirties and forties she published seven novels including The Rebecca Rioter: A Story of Killay Life (1880), Chloe Arguelle (1881), A Burglary, or Unconscious Influence' (1883), and Jill (1884). She also wrote a handful of short stories and poems and was a regular reviewer for 'The Spectator' (1880-1896), as well as a contributor to the short-lived periodical 'The Red Dragon: The National Magazine of Wales' (1882-1887).

As well as her literary career, Amy Dillwyn was an astute business woman, inheriting her father's spelter works which she rescued from debt and eventually sold for a handsome sum to a German metallurgy company in 1905. She served in various civic roles in Swansea, was active in Liberal politics, and was an advocate for emancipation, later serving as President of the Swansea Branch of the NUWSS.

The collection includes a number of diaries revealing her personal and business life.


Page of notebook with 'Poetry' handwritten in corner.

Within the collections are a number of poems by various authors; the majority of these are in English.

Wishart Collection
The collection contains manuscript books of verses composed, compiled and collected by various individuals, in dedicated volumes as well as scrapbooks and commonplace books.
Catalogue: Ralph Wishart, bookseller (Swansea) Collection (Ref. LAC/125)

Dylan Thomas
The Archives holds the drafts of the poems 'Unluckily for a Death' and 'Into her Lying Down Head', both of which were published in 'Deaths and Entrances' (1946). The papers show the poet revising imagery and word choice, and working out rhythmic structures, even including diagrams of his tentative rhyme scheme and small drawings where he appears to be visualising his imagery. Dylan wrote about both poems in his letters to Vernon Watkins in which he also sent an early draft of each poem. The “lost” Dylan Thomas notebook, sold at auction in 2014, is also part of the Archives.

Vernon Watkins
Vernon Watkins (1906-1967) was an internationally renowned poet and a lecturer at the University College Swansea (Calouste Gulbenkin Fellow in Poetry). He was friends with Dylan Thomas.
Catalogue: Vernon Watkins Papers (Ref. LAC/120)

Raymond Williams
The collection includes ‘Dance of the Prospectuses’, ‘Ederyn’s Song’, ‘Nijmegen Bridge’, ‘On first looking in “New Lines”, and ‘The Vision’ for Wolf Mankowitz, together with untitled poems.
Catalogue: Raymond Williams Collection - Poetry (Ref. WWE/2/1/5)

Ron Berry
The collection includes drafts of ‘Child, Mother, Father’ and ‘The Breaking in the Making: Sample One’ as well as a typescript of a poem by Kenneth Rexroth, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill: a memorial to Dylan Thomas’.
Catalogue: Ron Berry Collection - Poetry (Ref. WWE/1/6) 

Islwyn Williams
The collection includes a poem by Islwyn Williams entitled ‘Y Beddau a Wlych y Glaw’.
Collection Description: D G and Islwyn Williams Collection (Ref. SWCC/MNC/PP/29)


Rows of scripts.

There are several collections which contain plays for stage, radio, television and film; the majority of these are in English.

Elaine Morgan
The collection includes ‘Dr Finlay’s Casebook’, ‘Marie Curie’, ‘Lil’, ‘Lloyd George’, as well as many other titles written or adapted by Elaine Morgan.
Catalogue: Elaine Morgan Papers (Ref. WWE/3)

Ron Berry
The collection includes versions of ‘But Now They Are Fled’ and ‘Death of a Dog’, ‘Everybody Loves Saturday Night’, ‘Merrily, Merrily, Merrily Shall I Live’, ‘Uncle Rollo’ and ‘Where Darts the Gar, Where Floats the Wrack’ as well as other plays.
Catalogue: Ron Berry - Plays for TV and Radio (Ref. WWE/1/5)

B L Coombes
The collection includes 'I Stayed a Miner', 'Eight Pointed Star' and 'All Roads Blocked' as well as other plays.
Catalogue: B L Coombes - Plays (Ref. SWCC/MND/14/1/3)

Raymond Williams 
The collection includes ‘King Macbeth’, ‘KOBA’ (written as part of ‘Modern Tragedy’), ‘Liberation’, ‘Public Enquiry’, and ‘Revolt in Rome’, as well as untitled works.
Catalogue: Raymond Williams Collection - Plays (Ref. WWE/2/1/3)

D G and Islwyn Williams 
The collection includes three copies of untitled plays.
Collection Description: D G and Islwyn Williams Collection (Ref. SWCC/MNC/PP/29)

William Henry Harris
The collection includes ‘Squire Hay’, ‘Arransmeyer’, ‘The Story I Shall Tell My Son’, ‘The White Slaves of England’, ‘Paul Colette’ and ‘Jane Douglas’.
Collection Description: William Henry Harris (Barry) (Ref. SWCC/MNA/PP/42)

Jack Jones
The collection includes dramatical productions and correspondence, 1937-1981, including letter to B.H. Thomas regarding the play `Land of My Fathers'.
Collection Description: Jack Jones Collection (Ref. SWCC/MNC/PP/16)

Richard Burton Collection
The majority of items within this collection are scripts of projects which were not subsequently undertaken by Burton. Among the titles are 'Camelot' , '1984' and 'The Honorary Consul'.
Catalogue: Richard Burton Collection - Scripts (Ref. RWB/1/8)

University Collections

Cover of 'The Undergrad'.The University archives contain newspaper and RAG publications by the Student Union. The first publication 'The Undergrad', included correspondence between the different Welsh colleges, together with poetry and literature, and society news. This was a bi-yearly publication, whereas subsequent titles were more regular and took a newspaper format. The exception to this is 'Dawn' which was a more arts focused publication. See our guide to University Collections for more information.

Other Sources at Swansea University

Library with three people looking a books.Institute and Welfare Hall Libraries

The Richard Burton Archives holds many documents relating to libraries that were part of institutes and welfare halls in the south Wales coalfield.

These archives are complemented by the libraries of over 60 miners' institutes and welfare halls from across the South Wales coalfield that are now held at the South Wales Miners' Library. These libraries give an insight into the literature 'valued by working men and their communities'. 

Photograph of the Oakdale Miners' Institute Library, 1945 (Ref. SWCC/PHO/NUM/4/9)

Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales
Acknowledged as the international leader in this field of literary and cultural study, CREW has developed an extensive programme of teaching and research. Scholarly work ranges across a wide number of disciplines, including cultural history, visual culture, transatlantic connections, postcolonial studies, critical theory, and medieval studies. Individual writers studied include Dylan Thomas, R. S. Thomas, Margiad Evans, Arthur Machen, Raymond Williams and Amy Dillwyn.

Rare Books and Special Collections
The Rare Books Collection contains over 1,700 printed books and pamphlets from 1473 to the present. All items in the Rare Books collection are listed on the library catalogue iFind Discover (refine your search using LIC Rare Books filter).

The Special Collections includes a collection of books from the library of the late Glyn Jones (1915-1995), the Anglo-Welsh poet, short story writer and novelist, translations of some of the poetry and prose works of Dylan Thomas, and the Llewellyn Bequest, which comprises books and pamphlets, mainly of Welsh interest.

Book bag and two piles of books.Richard Burton's Library

Richard Burton's Library is available in the Archives, together with the bag he carried his books in when he traveled around the world.

'I shall read and read and read'
Richard Burton, November 1968