David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet

By Thomas Dilworth, Jonathan Cape, £25

David Jones is the author of two of the greatest modern poems in English, In Parenthesis and The Anathemata. He was also a gifted painter and he revolutionised the art of painted inscriptions. Yet Jones has too long been neglected, despite praise from figures such as Dylan Thomas and TS Eliot.

This new biography gives us a full portrait of Jones – as man, artist and poet. Just as important as the well-researched and well-written text is that Thomas Dilworth has included many reproductions of Jones’s visual art, both paintings and inscriptions – an art he really made his own.

Jones (1895-1974) was born in Brockley, south London, of Welsh descent. He served in World War I and was wounded during the battle of Mametz Wood. Among other experiences, his sight of a Mass being celebrated on the battlefield struck him both for its beauty and its rootedness in the many layers of Western history. The experience of war was to have a lifelong effect and strongly influence his work.

Jones was sickly, often bedridden, and suffered from almost complete breakdowns throughout his life, rendering him unable to work for long stretches. And his relationships with women, while at times intense, were all unfulfilled.

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