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Waldo Williams Collected Papers

Identifier: SCPC-CDG-B-Great Britain-Williams, Waldo

Scope and Contents

Collection includes biographical information, Williams's 1942 statement of conscientious objection to a Welsh tribunal, his writings, and the writings of others about him or his poetry. Tanya George, who donated several boxes of material by and about Waldo Williams, had wrapped the books and other material in plastic into units, and included a very detailed list according to her schema. This was dismantled upon arrival at the SCPC and the papers were arranged as seen in the folder list below. Photographs of Williams's memorial stone were removed to the Photograph Collection. All but a few items are photocopies of originals. A compact disc of readings of Williams's poems, a compact disc "Glesni's Notebook for Waldo" and two DVDs, were removed to the Audiovisual Collection. Books written by and about Waldo Williams were removed to the Book Collection.


  • 1942-1998


Language of Materials

Materials in Welsh and English

Limitations on Accessing the Collection


Copyright and Rights Information



Williams was born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire in 1904. His father was a primary school teacher from Pembrokeshire. English was the first language of the family and it wasn’t until he moved to Fynachlog-ddu and attended the local school at seven years of age that Waldo Williams was immersed in the Welsh language.

After attending the Grammar School at Narbeth, Pembrokeshire, he studied at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth where he graduated in English in 1926. Afterwards he trained as a teacher and worked in various schools in Pembrokeshire, the rest of Wales and England. He also taught night classes organized by the Department of Extre-Mural Studies, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Williams married in 1941, but his wife died in 1943, and he did not remarry.

Williams' parents were firm chapel-goers who were also influenced by the radical movement of the time. As pacifists, they were strongly opposed to the First World War. Waldo Williams was a conscientious objector during World War II, and the horror of war was evident in his poems during this period – Y Tangnefeddwyr (The Peacemeakers), which describes “Abertawe’n fflam” (“Swansea aflame”), for instance. During the Korean War he refused to pay his income tax on pacifist grounds. He continued his protest until the ending of compulsory military service in 1963. During his campaigning he was sent to prison.

He stood as a parliamentary candidate for Plaid Cymru in the Pembrokeshire constituency at the 1959 General Election when he won 4.32% (2.253) of the votes. But in general he spread his ideas and opinions through his writings, his poetry in particular, whereby he had considerable influence. His poems are also well known for their beautiful and evocative depictions of Wales and its people, with much of it concerned with the close-knit community life of the Preseli area of north Pembrokeshire. The Poetry Foundation states: "Waldo Williams . . . is widely regarded as one of the finest poets Wales has ever produced. Dail pren (The leaves of the tree) was the only volume of poems he published during his lifetime." []

Waldo Williams died in 1971 at St. Thomas's Hospital, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, and is buried at Blaenconin Chapel burial ground in Llandysilio.

See also:


0.42 Linear Feet (5 linear inches -- papers only)


Williams was a Welsh poet, war resister,war-tax resister, and conscientious objector in World War II. He became a Quaker in 1953.

Other Finding Aids

For the catalog record for this collection, and to find materials on similar topics, search the library's online catalog

Custodial History

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is not the official repository for the papers of Waldo Williams.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Tanya George, May 2010 [acc. 10A-046]

Legal Status

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information

Processed by Anne M. Yoder, Archivist, December 2010

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Find It at the Library

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