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John Johnston, English Professor, Collection of David Jones Letters and Other Material

Collection Number: A&M 4325

Scope and Contents

Correspondence between WVU professor John H. Johnston and British World War I poets, including David Jones, Herbert Read, and Siegfried Sassoon. There are fourteen letters authored by David Jones, a British World War I poet widely regarded as one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century by his contemporaries. The letters include a "discussion" between Johnston and Jones, mostly regarding Johnston's critique and analysis of the World War I poets, and also the thoughts and philosophies that influenced Jones's work (especially "In Parenthesis"). There are also two letters authored by Siegfried Sassoon and one authored by Sassoon's son, George, upon his father's death. Siegfried Sassoon was a British World War I poet best known for his critical view of the war following his service. Also includes publications by and about David Jones, and one piece of published greeting card artwork by David Jones with signature and note.


  • Creation: 1962-2017
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1962-1967


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Biographical / Historical

This collection includes mostly letters written to Dr. Johnston by David Jones (1895-1974), a British modernist painter and poet. Born in Wales in 1895, Jones enlisted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers during the First World War and served on the Western Front from 1915 to 1918 with the 38th (Welsh) Division. This experience in the trenches profoundly influenced his later poetry and grouped him with other poets of the First World War studied by Johnston. A Roman Catholic convert, his work was also influenced strongly by his faith. In addition to his poetry, Jones produced visual art in the form of watercolors, wood carvings, and painted inscriptions. Though he never achieved great popular reknown, Jones was considered to be one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century by many of his contemporaries, including T.S. Eliot, Igor Stravinsky, and Graham Greene.

The collection also includes one letter written by Herbert Read and two by Siegfried Sassoon. Sir Herbert Read (1893-1968) was an English art historian, poet, and literary critic, best known for numerous books on art.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) was an English writer, poet, and a decorated soldier who served on the western front during the First World War. Sassoon is best know for his realistic depictions of the horrors of war and satirical portrayals of war-loving patriots.

Each of these writers was included in Johnston's anthology "English Poetry of the First World War" (1964).


0.4 Linear Feet (5 in. (1 document case))

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:

John Johnston, English Professor, Collection of David Jones Letters and Other Material
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Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US