One of the first-generation British modernist poets, his passion for the Welsh language is expressed in this collection of love letters that are being offered with an estimate of £30,000-50,000.
Among this collection to be offered by Bonhams in its Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London (August 19), are letters to his great friend Valerie Wynne-Williams written between 1959-74.
According to Bonhams, throughout his life Jones had several romantic, strictly platonic, relationships with women, but his relationship with Valerie Wynne-Williams seems to have been the most intense.
They met in 1959 when Valerie was 25 and Jones in his mid-sixties. They shared a love of the Welsh language – Wynne-Williams was a fluent Welsh speaker and an active supporter of Plaid Cymru – but the relationship soon broadened. They corresponded until the artist’s death in 1974.
Jones always maintained that the demands of his artistic life and temperament were incompatible with marriage. However many of the letters reveal his strong feelings for Valerie. In April 1959, Jones wrote “...You did make me so happy...I do hope we meet again very, very, soon. I do wish that today was yesterday again... with very, very, much love.”
Bonhams head of books and manuscripts Matthew Haley said: “This wonderful and very entertaining collection of David Jones’s letters reveals – sometimes painfully – the deeply-held emotions which were such driving forces in his life and art.”
Other extracts from the letters reveal Jones’ struggle with painting. He wrote: “When people say they paint for 'pleasure' I am dumbfounded. It's always a vast struggle for me. Perhaps I'm awfully bad at it really – but there's nothing else I can do at all, nothing..."
Many of the letters are illustrated with, for example, delicate floral vignettes adorning Valerie’s name, a cat curled-up in an armchair, the horses in the field below his house, and a herd of pigs ("...much harder to draw than the horses or cats... sheep are also jolly hard...").