JONES, ALFRED ERNEST (1879 - 1958), psychoanalyst and Sigmund Freud's official biographer

Name: Alfred Ernest Jones
Date of birth: 1879
Date of death: 1958
Gender: Male
Occupation: psychoanalyst and Sigmund Freud's official biographer
Area of activity: History and Culture; Medicine; Science and Mathematics
Author: Thomas Gruffydd Davies

Born 1st January, 1879, in Gowerton, near Swansea, Glamorganshire, the son of Thomas and Mary Ann Jones. He was removed from the local school to schools in Swansea, and from there he won a scholarship to Llandovery College. Subsequently, he became a student at University College, Cardiff, and University College, London, and while he was there, in 1900, he gained the diplomas of the Conjoint Board of the Royal Colleges (L.R.C.P., M.R.C.S.), and a year later, he obtained a London University degree in Medicine (M.B.) with honours and gold medals in Medicine and Obstetrics; and Sir John Williams awarded him the University's Gold Medal in Obstetrics. Within five years, he obtained a series of postgraduate qualifications (M.D. with a gold medal, M.R.C.P., D.P.H.), but after several disagreements with the committees of the hospitals at which he worked, he had to resign. He spent some months visiting various clinics on the Continent before moving to Toronto as the head of a new psychiatric clinic. It was at his suggestion that the first international psychoanalytical congress was held in Salzburg in 1908, and there he read his famous paper on rationalization.

He was made an Associate Professor of the University of Toronto, and he did a great deal to accelerate the development of psychoanalysis in north America. In 1913, he returned to London without any hope of a university or hospital post, and it was there that he worked until he retired. In 1929, he offered evidence to the B.M.A. committee which led to their recommendation that Psychoanalysis should be recognised as an acceptable form of treatment. He formed the British Psychoanalytical Society, the Institute of Psychoanalysis and created the first psychoanalytical clinic in Britain. He was the President of the British Psychoanalytical Society (1919-1944), and the International Psychoanalytical Association (1920-24; 1930-49), the founder and editor of the International Psychoanalytical Library, and fifty volumes were published by the Library under his editorship. He founded the International Psychoanalytical Journal, and was its editor from 1920 to 1939. He was the international leader of the psychoanalytical movement for many years, and ensured that Freud was released from Nazi hands in 1938.

His interest in Welsh affairs was rekindled in the 1920s, and he became a keen member of the Welsh Nationalist Party soon after its formation, but to his great regret, he never learned to speak Welsh fluently. He is remembered as the person who did most to popularize Freud's work through the medium of the English language, and he published more than three hundred papers and a dozen books, but his pioneer work in psychoanalysis was not recognised outside his own field, and he had to wait almost until the time of his death before being elected a Fellow of his old college in London. Late in his life, he received many honours including the F.R.C.P. (1942), the D.Sc. (Wales) honoris causa, (1954), but long before that he had been elected an honorary member of several foreign psychoanalytical Societies.

In February 1917, he married (1) Morfydd Llwyn Owen, and after her death in September 1918, he married (2) Katherine Jökl of Vienna in 1919.

He died on February 11th, 1958, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, London. His ashes were buried in the grave of the oldest of their four children in the cemetery at Cheriton Church, Gower.


Published date: 2001

Article Copyright:

The Dictionary of Welsh Biography is provided by The National Library of Wales and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. It is free to use and does not receive grant support. A donation would help us maintain and improve the site so that we can continue to acknowledge Welsh men and women who have made notable contributions to life in Wales and beyond.

Find out more on our sponsorship page.