the powys society
Glen Cavaliero

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the powys society
Timothy Hyman

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John Cowper Powys
T. F. Powys
Llewelyn Powys The Powys Family
john cowper powys t f powys
llewelyn powys
the powys family


The eleven children born to Charles Francis Powys, an Anglican clergyman, were a uniquely precocious family, one of the most significant in the cultural history of Britain, of whom the writers John Cowper Powys, T. F. Powys and Llewelyn Powys are the most famous. But they also included the architect and conservationist A. R. Powys, the artist Gertrude Powys, the lacemaker Marian Powys, the notable headmaster Littleton Powys and the poet and novelist Philippa Powys. Primarily, though not exclusively, the focus of the Society is on the three writing brothers; distinctively unique as both individuals and authors.

The Society, a registered charity, was founded to promote and encourage the appreciation and enjoyment of the writings of John Cowper, Theodore and Llewelyn Powys and to establish their true literary status.

The aims of The Powys Society are:
- To promote a wider general readership and stimulate scholarly study and discussion of the works of the Powys brothers
- To actively promote an expanded universe around the Powyses
- To provide a comprehensive and accurate resource on the life and works of the Powyses

If you are an admirer, an enthusiast, a reader, a scholar, or a student of anything Powysian, then this international society would like to hear from you, and welcomes your participation in its activities.


Membership benefits include:

- A membership pack on joining.

- An annual Journal devoted to the study of the life and works of John Cowper, Theodore and Llewelyn Powys plus three 50 page newsletters (March, July and November).

- The Society is active in promoting the life and works of the Powys family. Speakers are arranged for special events.

- Opportunities to meet fellow Powysians and those who share your interest.

- An annual weekend conference and Powys Days.  JOIN US


Saturday 2 December 2017


the religion of a sceptic     john cowper powys, gertrude mary powys. powys society
                                        [First edition front Cover, 1925]

A London Meeting
Saturday, 2 December 2017
at The Friends Meeting House, 120 Heath Street, Hampstead
at 2pm for 2.30 start

The Society's Chairman

will give a talk on John Cowper Powys'

Followed by open discussion

bunhill fields friends meeting house, john cowper powys, the powys society

All are welcome.
The event is free with refreshments provided after the discussion.

"Here we are — confronted by this sublime and horrible universe —  with only one brief life at our disposal, and what must our bemused, bewildered minds do but rush blindfold over the crude surface of experience, taking everything for granted and finding nothing extraordinary in what we see. Extraordinary? We are surrounded by things that are staggering; by things that are so miraculously lovely that you feel they might dissolve at a touch; and by things so unbearably atrocious that you feel you would go mad if you thought of them for more than a flicker of a second." — John Cowper Powys

The realm of John Cowper Powys is dangerous. The reader may wander for years in this parallel universe, entrapped and bewitched, and never reach its end. There is always another book to discover, another work to reread. Like Tolkien, Powys has invented another country, densely peopled, thickly forested, mountainous, erudite, strangely self-sufficient. This country is less visited than Tolkien's, but it is as compelling, and it has more air.” Margaret Drabble

From AUTOBIOGRAPHY by John Cowper Powys:

“I have tried to write my life as if I were confessing to a priest, a philosopher, and a wise old woman. I have tried to write it as if I were going to be executed when it was finished. I have tried to write it as if I were both God and Devil.”


One is tempted to say only John Cowper Powys could have written that, and, beyond doubt, only John Cowper Powys could have written the idiosyncratic and spellbinding work we have here. Yes, he was influenced by Yeats and Rousseau, especially the latter’s Confessions, but there is no other work quite like this. It seems almost too pedestrian to say it covers the first sixty years of his life (he lived for another thirty years) and to say anything about them, as J. B. Priestley memorably put it, “would be like turning on a tap before introducing people to Niagara Falls.” J. B. Priestley also said “It is a book which can be read, with pleasure and profit, over and over again. It is in fact one of the greatest autobiographies in the English language. Even if Powys had never written any novels, this one book alone would have proved him to be a writer of genius.”

The Powys Society Conference, 2017
The Hand Hotel, Bridge Street, Llangollen
Friday 18th to Sunday 20th August

the hand hotel, llangollen, powys society conference

In 1909, Mrs Rodolph Stawell, made a journey, by car, through Wales at a time when there must have been very few other motorists. She described Llangollen in her book, Motor Tours in Wales:a little town that owes its charm entirely to its is an entrancing place.’ In the eighteenth century the English naturalist, William Bingley, also toured Wales, and observed the view of Llangollen from a distance ‘with its church and elegant bridge romantically embosomed in mountains.’ When JCP arrived in Llangollen in May 1935, on the way to his new home in Corwen, he was at first unimpressed. He wrote in his diary that he thought Llangollen was: ‘a grievous disappointment...we shall not return.’ However on that first visit he was also very much impressed by the river Dee and instantly remembered, appropriately, a line from Milton’s Lycidas, 'where Deva spreads her wizard stream'. He stared, transfixed, at the ruins of Dinas Bran and prayed for the soul of Owen Glendower. JCP’s veneration for the subject of his new novel, which he was already thinking about, connects with a fragment of verse by Shelley: ‘Great Spirit whom the sea of boundless thought nurtures within its imagined caves...’ Of course JCP did return to Llangollen many times. He loved the town and its surroundings reversing his original impression. For this year’s conference we also return to Llangollen and the friendly hospitality of the Hand Hotel in its picturesque position overlooking the Dee. Famous guests who have stayed here, in the past, have included Darwin, Wordsworth, Browning, Scott and Shaw.

Speakers: David Goodway, David Stimpson, Patrick Quigley and Grevel Lindop.
  Full details, including the Conference Booking Form, can be viewed on the Conference 2017 webpage

alyse gregory, she shall have music, janice gregory, sundial press
Re-issued for the first time
ALYSE GREGORY’s first novel

With an introduction
by Janice Gregory

Publication: 26 September 2017

janice gregory, alyse gregory she shall have music
JANICE GREGORY holding an advance proof copy of the new edition of SHE SHALL HAVE MUSIC by her great-aunt, Alyse Gregory, at this year's Powys Society Conference (August 2017)

Visit The Powys Society Facebook page:


The Discovery of John Cowper Powys
by Tim Blanchard
Few writers have tickets for the express train. Those that do ride smoothly on the rails of great literatureever after, sitting back in the carriages of the canon club: Hardy, Joyce, Lawrence, Woolf, Tolkien - the names which a hundred years on have the redolence of luxury brands and some of the same hard coating of gloss. One of their contemporaries, John Cowper Powys, is an example of what can go wrong, what happens when a potential giant ends up trundling into the backwoods on a branch line.
There's standing room only on Powys's train, carriage after carriage of ...

powysland the discovery of john cowper powys, tim blanchard, the sundial press


john cowper powys, porius

Saturday 29 April

Old Fire Engine House (restaurant and art gallery), 25 St. Mary’s Street, Ely
A report in Newsletter No 91

Thursday 15 June

Exeter University, Old Library, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, Devon

A report in Newsletter No 91

Further information of both the above events on the News and Events webpage

The Powys Society Newsletter

powys society newsletter 91, the powys society (2017)

July 2017: The Powys Society Newsletter No. 91
is now available to all Society members.

An essay by Llewelyn Powys

llewelyn powy, the twelve months, powys society

SEXTILIS, AS THE OLD ROMANS USED TO call August, was not the birth month of Augustus Caesar; he held it, however, to be his lucky month, and it was for this reason that he selected it to perpetuate his name, and for his honour’s sake made up the complement of its days to thirty-one.

the twelve months. llewelyn powys, the powys societyThe emperor was correct in judging August to be a more fortunate month than his own birth month of September. For centuries during its weeks more happy hours have been snatched by Europeans out of the hands of the envious fates than during the weeks of any of the other eleven months.

The great Flemish artist, Breughel the elder, is believed to have painted a series of pictures representing each month of the year. His picture of the month of August, now in the New York Metropolitan Museum, treats of a harvest landscape with the corn standing ready for the sickle, as it were a solid substance of golden bread! It is the noon hour, and the sixteenth-century reapers lie sprawling under the shadow of a tree. Evidently the genial opulence of the month of August had deeply stirred the artist’s imagination. Everything included in his picture seems to be praising the earth, whose procreant urge has given birth to so much sweltering life. The relaxed labourers bless the simple sensualities of existence; each leaf of the tree above them is suspended in the sultry air; each several spearhead of bearded com stands grateful in the sunshine.

August has always been the principal month of the English harvest. Lammas-tide (loaf-tide), as it came to be known in medieval times, was one of the four pagan festivals, and was closely associated with the cutting of the com.

This happy holiday month is truly an august month for us in England. It is during its days of sunshine that people who have been labouring at uncongenial tasks all the year long are able to enjoy a few days, or perhaps even a few weeks, of leisure!

‘The devil soon finds work for idle hands to do.’ Few proverbs are more slyly mendacious. Worldly minded people have always been adroit at coining such ethical apophthegms. Anxiously we await the weather signs for August Bank Holiday.

If the cock goes crowing to his bed

He is sure to wake with a watery head.

When the sun rises, behold, there is not a cloud to be seen. In London the indolent hours slowly pass, and the ever- increasing murmur that can be heard rising from each tap- room might deceive a planetary visitor into taking taverns to be sorts of enormous beehives. Behind the counter stands the publican, constrained on the occasion of so full a house to come to the help of his over-worked barmaid. He is a sober, practical man, who pulls down the polished handles with a competent fist, his eye vigilant for the last farthing. The door into the street is propped open with a rusty kitchen weight, always used for this purpose in hot weather. This soiled and shining swing door will remain open until long after darkness has fallen.

Then it is that fresh puffs of wind from the Thames’s channel touch the foreheads of the tipplers with the benediction of a summer’s night. These cool gusts mingled with the smell of tobacco, with the smell of stout, with the smell of human sweat, refresh the toss-pots, who, already well whittled, sit elbow to elbow in holiday shirt-sleeves as jolly as pyes. In the far-distant early morning their sons and daughters have left for the seaside in crowded excursion trains, testing the patience of long-suffering ticket-collectors with their irrepressible high spirits, and eventually streaming out of the railway station, a throng of strayed sun worshippers.

Holiday makers! That is a title that we should all strive to merit on this day. From the first crowing of the backyard rooster, with scarlet comb froHc and dry, our mood should be that of good fellowship. Fastidious reactions should not be indulged. We should cultivate an attitude that is broad enough to accept life’s loosest humour. Our reciprocity with the light-hearted mood of the day should be strong to transform discarded newspapers into a litter left behind by the dancing feet of a riotous troop of dedicated Bacchantes. It is the aplomb of Walt Whitman that should be our inspiration:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road.

Healthy, free, the world before me.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Here the profound lesson of reception nor preference nor denial.

The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas'd, the illiterate person, are not denied.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

They pass, I also pass, anything passes, none can be interdicted.

None but are accepted, none but shall be dear to me. 

To the countryman the approach of the imperial month has been indicated by unfailing signs. The yellow, oddly scented, button-like flower called flea-bane begins to be seen.All butterflies are attracted to this late-blossoming herb, and, as its name suggests, it offers a sovereign remedy against fleas. Nicholas Culpeper writes:

‘The said leaves gathered, when the morning dew is on them, and brought into a chamber troubled with fleas, will gather them thereunto, which being suddenly cast out will rid the chamber of those troublesome bedfellows.’

By every river bank the purple loosestrife shows at its finest now, waving its phallic splendour over the shining river levels where trout, slow to rise and as gross as chub, lag under the shadows of emerald water-weeds with backs and spotted flanks plump from the plentiful dietary of an endless succession of warm summer evenings.

William Shakespeare makes mention of purple loosestrife in Hamlet, alluding to the plant as a man who loved it and had observed its habit narrowly.

Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples.

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name.

But our cold maids do dead mens fingers call them.

Often it is a wise thing to spend a bank holiday in a boat on a river; especially is this plan to be commended to a boy and girl happy in their first love. To moor their skiff under the shade of some dark-leaf’d alder, and to watch the moon come up as they lie among shocks of newly cut com—who could devise a better way of spending their few hours of sweet freedom?

Already the twilight swallows are seeking their roosting places on the penthouse beams of old outlying cattle-barns. From the distant hillside comes the sound of a bugle. The boys have returned to camp after their day of explorations. They are gathered about their fires, listening to the hearty talk of their sun-burned monitors, all of them happy save one who sits shyly apart and wishes he were in the garden of his home watching in undisciplined freedom for puss-moths at the end of the lawn where the evening primroses flourish, calling like a true child of Dorset after the dusty nocturnal millers:

Millery, millery, dousty pole!

How many zacks hast thee a-stole

Vour and twenty in a peck

Hang a miller up by's neck.

 With unbewitched eyes he watches the moon behind a hedgerow elm. It is the same moon that is transforming the harvest acres that hold the lovers.

This is the hour when cold dew gathers on leaf and grass blade. All is stillness except where the plover’s plaintive cry sounds from a distant meadow. This is the hour when may be heard the sound of dutiful farm horses munching pro- vender in the hollow vaults of uneven-floored stables whose racks and mangers have been sweetened and polished by this same strong animal of health and labour for generation after generation. Occasionally for the easement of a tired limb a heavy hoof is rested, the caulkins of its lucky shoe suddenly glimmering as the worn metal catches the shroud-white light that leaks in through a derelict window dim with currycombs and cobweb dust. This is the hour when the otter may be seen conducting her offspring across the river, her weasel’s head of blackest velvet silently dividing the water’s smooth surface into rippling lines edged with moonlight.

Imperceptibly the poetry of the summer’s night takes possession of the boy and girl. Never again will they be able to accept without suspicion the common view of die Monday morning world. The love they have for each other has initiated them into a new mystery. They have been permitted to look through the thin stage-scenery of accepted reality. In foul and in fair weather, in sickness, in old age, and in the hour of death they will have at their command a clue to the justification of life in the shared memory of a perfect August holiday.

From The Twelve Months by Llewelyn Powys (The Bodley Head, 1936.)

August 2017

The full contents of the inventory of the Powys Society Collection, now located at Exeter University, are available to view below.
All files (which open in a new tab or window) are available to read in PDF format. 


Articles and Books About

Books by

Contributions to
Periodicals & Books

Ex Libris

to other books







Articles and Books About

Books by

Contributions to
other books

Ex Libris


Manuscripts (Bissell Gift)
Manuscripts (Feather Gift)


Periodical Publications



Articles and Books About

Book Reviews

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Ex Libris






Books by

Elizabeth MYERS


A.R. (Bertie) POWYS


Francis POWYS

Books, Articles, etc
Ex Libris


The Powys Circle

The latest publication from The Powys Press (2016)
  Llewelyn Powys: A Consumptive’s Diary, 1911
   Edited by Peter Foss
   The Powys Press

llewelyn powys recalled to life, the powys society By the spring of 1911, the writer Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939) – then only 26 – had spent eighteen months at a Swiss sanatorium, being treated for the tuberculosis which the previous year had nearly killed him. Still frail, he returned to England, and to Montacute, the Somerset home of his family, where his father had been vicar for 26 years. This homecoming, which Powys first described in his remarkable book Skin for Skin (1925), was fraught with ambiguities, partly occasioned by his confirmed espousal of a neo-pagan philosophy which turned him against the religion of his forebears. Here, in Somerset, he ‘came into his own’, regaining his strength and rediscovering anew the beautiful landscape of his boyhood. This was characterised by a determination to extract joy from every passing moment. He cultivated a visionary response to Nature, relished erotic sensations, and enthusiastically indulged his friendships – especially with his brother John Cowper Powys. This ‘eternal flow of life’, as he called it, was a panacea and, through the writing of this diary, provided ‘food for future years’. Continuing and expanding the narrative account, Powys’s 1911 diary charts in candid detail his longings, his friendships, his reading, the poetry he loved and the letters he received. He writes of his walks in the countryside of south Somerset, imbibing at inns, encountering wayfarers, luxuriating in the natural world – and all this in one of the glorious summers of the twentieth century, when temperatures famously reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In the words of Siegfried Sassoon, it seemed to all ‘a summer of commingled happiness’. But 1911 was also a year of dramatic social and political upheavals that were changing the age-old ways of life, rendering the experience of this year a kind of ‘timeless moment’ – and that is how Powys later re-imagined it in writings such as Love and Death (1939). With the insidious disease always in the background, the 1911 diary conveys vividly what it was like still to live life to the full in the last throes of Edwardian England before The Great War swept so much away.

RECALLED TO LIFE was launched at the 2016 conference
Within the UK: 10.00
Outside UK price: 15.00
Please send your cheque, made payable to the Powys Society, to:
Hon Secretary, Chris Thomas, at 87 Ledbury Road, London, W11 2AG

llewelyn powys, sherborne School
Llewelyn Powys at Sherborne School

Selected articles

Digital editions of THE POWYS JOURNAL
A Visit to The National Library of Wales
Reminiscences  of John Cowper Powys in the late 1920s by Albert S. Krick (PDF file)
A minor, difficult masterpiece by T. F. Powys

john cowper powys, henry miller, proteus and the magician
The Letters of Henry Miller and John Cowper Powys
(click on image above)

the powys journal volume xx, the powys society
Digital version available to read online
(click on image above)

john cowper powys, dorchester wall plaque
john cowper powys, the dorset year

the life of john cowper powys

John Cowper Powys
wall plaque in High West Street,
Dorchester, Dorset
The Diary of John Cowper Powys
(June 1934 to June 1935)

the powys brothers books, the powys society

"A genius - a fearless writer, who writes with reckless passion." - Margaret Drabble on John Cowper Powys

The one author I could not live without is John Cowper Powys.” – Bernard Cornwell

"Llewelyn Powys is one of those rare writers who teach endurance of life as well as its enjoyment." - Philip Larkin

"Theodore Powys wrote extraordinary fables of English country life. Bloomsbury admirers hailed them as the singular works of a dark and brooding genius." - P. Wright

"Theodore Powys, the brother of Llewelyn, is a rare person." - T. E. Lawrence

“I touch here upon what is to me one of the profoundest philosophical mysteries: I mean the power of the individual mind to create its own world, not in complete independence of what is called "the objective world," but in a steadily growing independence of the attitudes of the minds toward this world. For what people call the objective world is really a most fluid, flexible, malleable thing. It is like the wine of the Priestess Bacbuc in Rabelais. It tastes differently; it is a different cosmos, to every man, woman, and child. To analyse this "objective world is all very well, as long as you don't forget that the power to rebuild it by emphasis and rejection is synonymous with your being alive.” — John Cowper Powys

“Even though we waves lie for centuries in the deeps of the waters, so deeply buried that no man could think that we should ever rise, yet as all life must come to the surface again and again, awakening each time from a deep sleep as long as eternity, so we are raised up out of the deeps high above our fellows, to obey the winds, to behold the sky, to fly onwards, moving swiftly, to complete our course, break and sink once more.

  We, who are waves, know you, who are men, only as another sea, within which every living creature is a little wave that rises for a moment and then breaks and dies. Our great joy comes when we break, yours when you are born, for you have not yet reached that sublime relationship with God which gives the greatest happiness to destruction.” T.F. Powys 

 "No sight that the human eyes can look upon is more provocative of awe than is the night sky scattered thick with stars.” — Llewelyn Powys

glastonbury tor

Montacute Vicarage

durdle door
Glastonbury Tor
Montacute Vicarage Durdle Door

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