Born 11 April 1889 at Carmarthen, son of Arnaud Johnson Jones and his wife. Educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Carmarthen, he went to U.C.W., Aberystwyth in 1908 gaining a first-class honours degree in French and later a master's degree. He then proceeded to Balliol College, Oxford, where he obtained his B.Litt. A stimulating and influential teacher, he successively occupied posts as lecturer in French in Aberystwyth, University College of South Wales, Cardiff and Cambridge. He was appointed Professor of French in the University College of North Wales, Bangor in 1937 and in 1951 went to the University of Manchester as its first Professor of Modern French Literature. The University of Wales conferred on him an hon. D.Litt. degree in 1960, soon after his retirement. Mansell Jones was drawn to the study of modern French poetry; he was able, with his natural sensitivity and understanding, to illuminate his subjects in books like Emile Verhaeren (1926 and 1957) and Baudelaire (1952). His important new edition of The Oxford Book of French Verse (1957) displayed a sure taste in the choice of poems especially from Baudelaire onwards. Collections of essays on more general topics — Tradition and Barbarism (1930), French Introspectives (1937) and The Background of Modern French Poetry (1951) — reveal his interests in French thought and contemporary issues. In the 1950s he took a full part in the debates which were then raging on the role of the universities in the post-war world and especially the place of the humanities in a technological age. Mansell Jones, who suffered indifferent health throughout his life, was a bachelor with a host of friends. Known universally with affectionate admiration as ‘P.M.’ he was a welcome lecturer at universities where his humour, his humility, his affirmation of literary values and his pleasure in scholarship were fine examples to others. He died on 24 January 1968.
Published date: 2001
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