Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , PERCY MANSELL ( 1889 - 1968 ), Professor of French ;

b. 11 April 1889 at Carmarthen , son of Arnaud Johnson Jones and his wife. Educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School , Carmarthen , he went to U.C.W. , Aberystwyth in 1908 gaining a first-class honours degree in French and later a master's degree. He then proceeded to Balliol College , Oxford , where he obtained his B.Litt. A stimulating and influential teacher , he successively occupied posts as lecturer in French in Aberystwyth , University College of South Wales , Cardiff and Cambridge . He was appointed Professor of French in the University College of North Wales , Bangor in 1937 and in 1951 went to the University of Manchester as its first Professor of Modern French Literature . The University of Wales conferred on him an hon. D.Litt. degree in 1960 , soon after his retirement. Mansell Jones was drawn to the study of modern French poetry ; he was able, with his natural sensitivity and understanding, to illuminate his subjects in books like Emile Verhaeren ( 1926 and 1957 ) and Baudelaire ( 1952 ). His important new edition of The Oxford Book of French Verse ( 1957 ) displayed a sure taste in the choice of poems especially from Baudelaire onwards. Collections of essays on more general topics — Tradition and Barbarism ( 1930 ), French Introspectives ( 1937 ) and The Background of Modern French Poetry ( 1951 ) — reveal his interests in French thought and contemporary issues. In the 1950s he took a full part in the debates which were then raging on the role of the universities in the post-war world and especially the place of the humanities in a technological age. Mansell Jones , who suffered indifferent health throughout his life, was a bachelor with a host of friends. Known universally with affectionate admiration as ‘ P.M. ’ he was a welcome lecturer at universities where his humour, his humility, his affirmation of literary values and his pleasure in scholarship were fine examples to others. He d. on 24 Jan. 1968 .


  • P. Mansell Jones , How they educated Jones (Cardiff, 1974) (autobiography up to 1915; 1974 ) and ‘Saunders Lewis: Sketches for a Portrait’ in Saunders Lewis ei feddwl a'i waith (Denbigh, 1950) , ed. Pennar Davies (1950) ;
  • L. J. Austin , Garnet Rees and Eugéne Vivaver (ed.), Studies in Modern French Literature presented to P. Mansell Jones by pupils, colleagues and friends (Manchester, 1961) (1961) .


Dr Garnet Rees (1912-90), Stamford, Lincs

Published date: 2001