Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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JONES , THOMAS HENRY ( HARRI ; 1921 - 1965 ), lecturer and poet ;

b. 21 Dec. 1921 at Cwm Crogau , Llanafan Fawr, Breck. , eldest of the five children of Llywelyn Jones , a foreman roadman and Ruth (née Teideman ) his wife. He attended Llanafan school five miles away, and Builth county school . In 1939 he went to U.C.W. , Aberystwyth but joined the Royal Navy in 1941 and resumed his studies in 1946 to graduate with first-class honours in English in 1947 and gain his M.A. in 1949 . He m. in 1946 Madeline Scott , a well-known potter , and they had three daughters.

He did not secure a post till 1951 when he began teaching at the Dockyard Technical School , Portsmouth , and lectured for the W.E.A. in the evenings. With no prospect of a suitable university post in Britain he emigrated to Australia in 1959 to become a lecturer at Newcastle College (University soon afterwards) where he gained a high reputation as a scholar and poet . Despite his successful academic career, he suffered from depression and drank heavily . Since his schooldays he wrote and read poetry aloud and had his work published in Dock Leaves , Life and Letters , Dublin Magazine , etc., and in Quadrant , Meanjin , etc. in Australia . He published three volumes of his poems, The enemy in the heart ( 1957 ), Songs of a mad prince ( 1960 ) and The beast at the door ( 1963 ); a critical study of Dylan Thomas ( 1963 ); and was editor of an Australian journal of studies in American literature . He demonstrated a mastery of language and developed his particular talent in poems which were appreciated in Australia and beyond. Both his war-time experience of losing friends at sea and the hard life of early childhood left an indelible mark upon him and he felt compelled to express his troubled feelings in verse. He regretted his ignorance of Welsh — his father's tongue, and yearned to return to his native land. Intense feelings of guilt and loneliness overcame him even in his most intimate relationship with his wife, and he was in a constant desperate search for his identity. He organized a week-long school in modern poetry and drama in Jan. 1965 but before the end of the course he was found drowned in a sea-side pool on 30 Jan . His ashes were brought to Wales and interred in Llanfihangel Brynpabuan churchyard. A collection of poems written in exile, The colour of cockcrowing ( 1966 ) and The Collected Poems of T. Harri Jones ( 1977 ) were published posthumously.

Sources:

  • Julian Croft , T. H. Jones (Cardiff, 1976) (1976) ;
  • NLW MS ex 499(i), ‘Harri Jones’;
  • Planet the Welsh internationalist 49/50, 1980 , 128-32;
  • [ P. B. Jones and Don Dale-Jones , T. H. Jones poet of exile (2001) (2001) ].

Author:

Dr Mary Auronwy James, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001