Jones, David Michael (1895-1974)

David Jones is one of the great literary artists of British modernism, as well as being an important engraver, illustrator and painter, and an accomplished essayist. He was born in Brockley, Kent, on 1 November 1895. In 1909, at the age of fourteen Jones began studying at the Camberwell School of Art. He served as a private at the front from December 1915, taking part in the battle of Mametz Wood in July 1916 (of which he gives a poetic account in In Parenthesis). Due to injury and illness, Jones had periods of convalescence in England during the war, but each time he returned to his battalion in France. At the end of the war in November 1918, Jones was transferred to Limerick for the onerous and unpleasant task of maintaining order during the Irish uprising. During the Second World War Jones chose (somewhat courageously) to remain in London and continued to work with some success as both painter and writer, publishing several essays and frequently exhibiting his works. In 1944 he developed the new technique of painted inscriptions, in which a text is transformed, using paint and wax crayon, to make the letters seem as though carved in ancient stone. By the end of the war, in fact, Jones had become one of the leading figures of contemporary British art. Jones was appointed CBE in 1955 and Companion of Honour in 1974. His work won many prizes and awards, and he received the honorary degree of DLitt from the University of Wales in 1960. He died on 28 October 1974 at the Calvary Nursing Home in Sudbury Hill, Harrow, after some years of increasing illness.

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