Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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JONES , THOMAS OWEN (‘ Gwynfor ’, 1875 - 1941 ), librarian, dramatist, actor and producer ;

b. 19 Jan. 1875 in Pwllheli, Caerns. , s. of William and Ellen Jones , New Street . He was educated at the town council school and then apprenticed in a local grocery shop . Between 1916 and 1917 he kept his own business at Caernarfon before being appointed county librarian on a salary of £130 per annum. This was the first county library established in Wales and was located in two rooms at Plas Llanwnda , Castle Street , Caernarfon . It appears that the appointment was a temporary one at first but Gwynfor visited the headquarters of the Carnegie Trust in Dunfermline for a while to equip himself for the new post, in a period when scant attention was paid to librarianship as a profession. Gwynfor excelled in the field of drama and he became famous throughout Wales as an actor and producer with his drama company, Y Ddraig Goch . He published a number of his own plays, Y briodas ddirgel ( 1915 ), Trem yn ôl ( 1920 , 2 ed.), Perthnasau ( 1922 ), Y llo aur a lloi eraill ( 1925 ), Eiddo pwy? ( 1935 ), Troi'r byrddau ( 1935 ), Tywydd mawr ( 1939 ), and a book of short stories, Straeon ( 1931 ). He was good company with a stock of stories and traditions about Y Maes ( Castle Square ) in Caernarfon . He was a keen follower of eisteddfodau and he was a drama adjudicator at the national eisteddfod many times. His office at the library became a popular meeting place for leading literary figures in the area, like E. Morgan Humphreys (see above) , Meuryn ( R.J. Rowlands , see below) and Cynan ( Sir Cynan (Albert) Evans-Jones , see above) . He was one of the first to broadcast in Welsh from Manchester in the 1930s . He d. 22 Aug. 1941 and was buried in Llanbeblig cemetery , Caernarfon : his epitaph reads ‘ Actor da, Cymro da, Cristion da ’ (A good actor, Welshman and Christian).


  • ‘Caernarfonshire and its libraries; development of the first County Library in Wales’, Caernarvonshire Historical Society Transactions , 1972 ;
  • O. Llew Owain , Hanes y ddrama yng Nghymru, 1850-1943 (Liverpool, 1948) (1948) ;
  • local newspapers;
  • [ E. Wyn James in Ysgrifau Beirniadol , 23 (1997) , 208-40].


Thomas Elwyn Griffiths, Caernarfon

Published date: 2001