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University of Texas at Austin

Richard Llewellyn:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator Llewellyn, Richard
Title Richard Llewellyn Papers
Dates: 1939-1952 (bulk 1949-1952)
Extent: 14 boxes (5.83 linear feet)
Abstract: These papers consist of manuscripts, a small amount of correspondence, photographs, and other materials primarily at mid-career of Llewellyn. The novel How Green Was My Valley, the work for which Llewellyn is best known, is not represented in the collection. Numerous photographs depict places Llewellyn traveled, particularly Italy.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-02519
Language: English.
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchases, 1973 (R5971) & 1976 (R7293)
Processed by Jennifer Peters, 1997

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Richard Llewellyn was born Richard Herbert Vivian Lloyd in 1906 in St. David's, Pembrokeshire, Wales, and was raised in Wales and educated in England. He entered the workforce at sixteen, washing dishes at the Claridges Hotel in London, but soon progressed to more responsible positions in Italian hotels. In 1924, he joined the British army, serving for six years in India and Hong Kong. After leaving the service, he returned to England where he held a series of odd jobs, including a stint as a miner in South Wales and as a playwright. By 1938, he was working for Twentieth Century-Fox, a position that he left to complete his first novel, How Green Was My Valley, which was published in 1939.
Written over a period of twelve years, How Green Was My Valley, the story of a Welsh mining family, was a critical and commercial success, and later was made into an Oscar-winning film. The success of the novel made Llewellyn an instant celebrity, and gave him the opportunity to travel widely and lecture in the United States, Europe, and Latin America.
A second novel, None But the Lonely Heart, was published mistakenly when Llewellyn joined the Welsh Guard at the beginning of World War II and left the unfinished manuscript with his publisher. This book, based on the London underworld, also had a strong following, and was also made into a movie. Almost thirty years later, when the novel was republished, Llewellyn added over one hundred pages to its conclusion.
Llewellyn attained the rank of captain as a Welsh Guard in World War II, but returned to writing after the Allied victory. He served as a reporter at the Nuremberg trials, and also turned his hand to screenwriting. Llewellyn traveled to the U.S. in 1946, where he was employed as a screenwriter for MGM. Although he wrote a number of screenplays and screen treatments over the next six years, none appear to have been produced. During that time, a third novel, A Few Flowers for Shiner (1950), drew on his knowledge of Italy, and described the war-torn country through the eyes of British soldiers.
Llewellyn's sojourn in the United States, where he married for the first time, inspired his fourth novel, A Flame for Doubting Thomas (1953), which again described a lower-class subculture; this time, he focused his attention on carnival life on a California pier. A first draft of the novel was completely rewritten, and it went through many changes before it was published to luke-warm reviews.
For the next thirty years, Llewellyn published novels on almost an annual or biannual basis. He returned to the Morgan family so beloved in How Green Was My Valley, and wrote a number of sequels following the life of its protagonist, Huw Morgan. He wrote a series of spy novels, as well as juvenile historical works. His novels remained popular throughout his life, although none reached the level of critical and commercial success of his first.
Llewellyn led a peripatetic existence, living in the U.S., Israel, Latin America, Africa, Italy, France, Switzerland; he often drew from his experiences in these countries when he wrote. Llewellyn married twice: his first wife was Nona Sonstenby, whom he married in 1952 and divorced in 1968, and his second wife was Susan Heimann, whom he married in 1974. He died November 30, 1983.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents

The Richard Llewellyn Papers comprise fourteen boxes of manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, slides, negatives, personal effects, financial papers, clippings, and other printed materials, dating 1939-1952 (bulk 1949-1952). Covering a brief period of Llewellyn's prolific life, the vast majority date from Llewellyn's post-war years in the United States, where he worked as a screenwriter for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Llewellyn's popularity as a novelist and his work for stage and screen at that time is well documented in this collection, which covers his writing, his lecture tours, his travels in Europe and Latin America, and his private life.
The collection is organized in four series: I. Works, 1949-1952; II. Correspondence, 1940-1952; III. Photographs, 1949-1951, and IV. Personal Papers, 1939-1951. By far the largest series in the collection is Works, which contains manuscripts for four books, including an unpublished novel, short stories and articles, and scripts for stage, screen, and television. Many of these manuscripts are in incomplete states, but others, such as those for the novel A Flame for Doubting Thomas and the play "Plainsong," follow the creative process from initial handwritten manuscript to final typescript. The vast majority of the manuscripts date from 1952, and show the range of Llewellyn's interests at the time, from Argentina to post World War II Italy to children's stories to historical fiction. Complementing the Works series is a series of letters from his literary agent and publisher making reference to manuscripts upon which he was working.
Besides writing, Llewellyn led an active life as a lecturer, traveling around the United States; the collection contains routine correspondence about these travels, as well as itineraries, schedules, and train ticket stubs from the time. Also present is financial and legal documentation pertaining to his stay in America, such as letters of reference, salary stubs, and a tax form. Additionally, materials relating to Llewellyn's travels in the early 1950s, including a large group of photographs, pamphlets and maps acquired up by the author, and correspondence from local friends and acquaintances document his visits to Italy, Latin America, and other places.
Llewellyn's personal life during these years is documented as well. Correspondence with family and friends is scattered throughout Series II, highlighted with letters from his fiancée Nona Sonstenby, his father William Llewellyn Lloyd, and an unidentified lady friend in Italy. Also present are many personal papers, such as Llewellyn's birth certificate, military records, and financial papers.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Works, 1949-1952 (11 boxes)
Eleven boxes of manuscripts comprise Series I, the largest of the four series in the collection. Containing manuscripts for books, short stories, articles, and play, television, and film scripts, the series has been arranged into three subseries--the first contains materials relating to Llewellyn's books, the second contains short stories and articles, and the third covers scripts of all kinds, whether film, play, or television. All titles are arranged alphabetically within each subseries.
Most of the works in this series are in the form of annotated typescripts, corrected with stapled manuscript fragments, which are enhanced by the occasional presence of autograph manuscripts. Of particular note in each subseries are Llewellyn's talented sketches, drawn on the verso of manuscript pages. Although unidentified, they appear to refer to characters in a manuscript, or are studies of female nudes.
Manuscripts for four novels by Llewellyn-- A Few Flowers for Shiner, A Flame for Doubting Thomas, None But the Lonely Heart, and an unpublished novel set in Venice--are present in subseries A. While the subseries contains multiple drafts of A Flame for Doubting Thomas and Llewellyn's unpublished novel, the manuscripts for A Few Flowers for Shiner and None But the Lonely Heart are less complete. Two manuscript versions of A Few Flowers for Shiner are present, the first consisting of handwritten pages, arranged partially by chapter by the book dealer from whom the collection was purchased. This autograph manuscript is incomplete, but contains the earliest drafts for the novel. A complete typescript, heavily annotated, complements this first draft. The subseries contains multiple drafts of A Flame for Doubting Thomas, starting with the first complete typescript that was rejected by Llewellyn's publisher and completely reworked, through a final version. A series of heavily annotated manuscripts has been sorted by the book dealer into groups detailing the novel's many revisions. Alternately, the subseries contains only one version of None But the Lonely Heart, a bound carbon typescript, highlighted by a 1943 letter from Llewellyn to the publisher Robert Lusty sending him the manuscript. Three incomplete and partially unorganized versions of Llewellyn's untitled novel, possibly titled "Checkmate in Venice," are also present in this subseries.
Subseries B contains manuscripts of short stories and articles written by Llewellyn, many of which are in the form of carbon typescripts. Many of these articles refer to Llewellyn's tour of Latin America and, particularly, Argentina, in the early 1950s. The subseries is highlighted by a number of untitled stories and articles, most of which are heavily annotated and unfinished, and cover a broad range of subjects.
A final subseries, Scripts, contains stage plays, screenplays, television scripts, and adaptations, reflecting Llewellyn's work in Hollywood and for the English stage, dating from 1950-1952. As in subseries B, many of these titles are unfinished, and some progressed only as far as a story line, such as "David,""Two-Timer," and "Widow's Mite." Others are more complete, such as "Beau Brummel" and "Plainsong." Of particular note is the large number of historical screenplays upon which Llewellyn worked, including ones on Beau Brummel, John Brown, and the artists' model Jane Avril. It appears as though only one of these was successfully produced--the script for "The Quiet Man," a 1952 Republic Pictures movie, directed by John Ford, is present. Llewellyn is not listed in the film's credits, but it appears that he worked on the first draft of the script, which was later reworked and credited to screenwriter Frank Nugent.
Series II. Correspondence, 1940-1952 (5 folders)
This series contains primarily incoming letters to Llewellyn. Three folders of correspondence are arranged alphabetically by last name, and a folder of unidentified correspondence has been arranged by first name. An additional folder of Christmas cards, highlighted only by some of Llewellyn's own cards, is also present.
Much of this correspondence consists of single exchanges pertaining to Llewellyn's lecture tours in the early 1950s, and are interesting in that they reflect his busy schedule and popularity at the time. More important, however, are the particularly rich groups of letters from women with whom Llewellyn was involved, including a series from his first wife, Nona Sonstenby, and collections of correspondence from his agent and publisher, many of which relate to manuscripts found in Series I. Also present is an earlier set of letters from Llewellyn's father, William Llewellyn Lloyd, written during World War II; they document Llewellyn's family life, about which he was intensely private.
Of particular note in this series are the group of letters from Edith Haggard, Nona Sonstenby, and an unidentified Italian woman known only as"Mussia." Each of these women had a personal relationship with Llewellyn, and the letters reflect that warmth and intimacy. Edith Haggard worked at the Curtis Brown Agency, with which Llewellyn was affiliated. Nona Sonstenby was Llewellyn's first wife; these letters date from their engagement, and are scattered throughout with annotated newspaper clippings. The letters from Mussia indicate a close relationship, but it is unclear who she is or how Llewellyn knew her. Photographs in Series III show that they spent time together on Llewellyn's visits to Italy.
A large group of letters from the Curtis Brown Agency contains routine information about various plays and books upon which Llewellyn was working, as well as a series of letters from 1952 relating to the manuscript of A Flame for Doubting Thomas, in which President Alan Collins makes specific recommendations and suggestions for improving the novel. (Series I contains the manuscripts to which Collins refers.) Similarly, correspondence from the publisher Michael Joseph Ltd. contains editing suggestion for A Few Flowers for Shiner and A Flame for Doubting Thomas.
Other correspondents of note in this series include French spy Mathilde Carré, aspiring screenwriter Loraine Fielding, writer Naomi Jacob, a sketch by Florencio Molina Campos, as well as former military companions of Llewellyn's, friends in Latin America, writing associates; also present are materials relating to Llewellyn's tax problems in England.
Series III. Photographs, 1949-1951 (2 boxes)
Two document boxes of photographs document Llewellyn's travels, 1949-1951, and the people with whom he was associated. Almost all of the photographs were unlabeled and none were organized before cataloging; they have been sorted by the archivist into two groups, People and Places. The photographs relate particularly to Llewellyn's visits to Italy. Multiple photographs of his Italian friend Mussia are present, as well as a series of snapshots from Rome and Venice. A large number of prints remain unidentified, but it also appears that Llewellyn took photographs of his trips to Latin America, Spain, and the United States. Also present are a large group of slides and negatives that relate to the photographs in the series.
Series IV. Personal Papers, 1939-1951, (1 box)
This final series contains papers relating to Llewellyn's life, from personal documentation to paycheck stubs. Many files document his work in the United States, including with a file containing Llewellyn's application for an immigration visa to the United States in 1946. Additionally, his paystubs from California are present, as well as copies of itineraries and engagements around the U.S. from 1946-1951. The series also contains a collection of works by other writers; these consist mainly of short storylines and story drafts, but is highlighted by a carbon typescript of Ignazio Silone's Fontamara. A copy of Llewellyn's birth certificate is present, as well as his Officer's Record Service, showing his service during World War II. Additionally, the series contains materials saved by Llewellyn, including a series of pamphlets written by Argentine President Juan Peron.

Index Terms


Bernheimer, Earle J.
Carre, Mathilde Belard, called La Chatte, 1908- .
Fielding, Loraine.
Haggard, Edith.
Hardy, Galston.
Jacob, Naomi Ellington, 1889-1964.
Molina Campos, Florencio, 1891-1959.
Sonstenby, Nona, 1922- .
Curtis Brown Ltd.
Michael Joseph Ltd.


Silone, Ignazio, 1900-1978.
Authors, Welsh--20th century.

Document Types

Birth certificates.
Christmas cards.
Love letters.

Richard Llewellyn Papers--Folder List