Thomas Henry (Harri) Jones was born in a remote area of Wales in 1921, the eldest of five children and the only son in a poor rural family. He won scholarships to secondary school in Builth Wells and then to university in Aberystwyth. His studies were interrupted by World War II when he served in the Navy. He met his wife, Madeleine, when they were demobbed after the war. After completing his Master’s degree in the post-war years, he taught English to returned servicemen at the Naval Dockyards in Portsmouth, England. He and Madeleine moved to Newcastle NSW in 1959 with their three young daughters. Harri had obtained a lectureship in the Department of English of the then University College of Newcastle, an offshoot of the University of New South Wales. This was meant to be a short-term move, with the hope of returning to Britain when Harri secured a lectureship there.
Harri is a well-known Anglo-Welsh poet and in addition to his books of poetry he is well represented in anthologies of poetry in Australia and elsewhere. He published his first volume of poetry in 1957. His fourth and last was published posthumously in 1966. He was very well regarded as a lecturer despite the alcoholism that marred his latter years and ended with his untimely death by drowning in 1965 at the age of 43. After his death, family and friends donated money in his memory to set up a poetry prize to continue in perpetuity. He had a huge impact on his students, several of whom went on to fine careers of their own as writers and academics.
In 2018 the Harri Jones prize is $500