the powys society
Glen Cavaliero

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Timothy Hyman

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llewelyn powys diary of a reluctant teacher

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


"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

john cowper powys, gertrude mary powys. powys societyFrom 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 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

Visit The Powys Society Facebook

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

The Dandelion Fellowship

Celebrating the life, work and philosophy of Llewelyn Powys

dandelion fellowship

The Friends of Llewelyn Powys congregate each August 13th for the annual gathering at the Sailor’s Return in East Chaldon, Dorset at 12 noon — all welcome.

After lunch those assembled walk from Chaldon up to the coastal path on top of Chaldon Down and wild flowers are laid on Llewelyn Powys’ Memorial Stone, a toast is drunk to his memory and several passages from Llewelyn's books are read.

Further information on the Llewelyn Powys Birthday Walk Facebook page:

[Endorsed but not organised by the Powys Society]


The Greatest Writer You've Never Heard Of,

And What We Can Learn From Him

by Tim Blanchard

tim blanchard


john cowper powys, porius

Saturday 29 April

Old Fire Engine House (restaurant and art gallery), 25 St. Mary’s Street, Ely

Thursday 15 June

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

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

December London Meeting - details to be announced in due course

The Powys Society Newsletter No. 90 (March 2017)

powys society newsletter 90 (march 2017)

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

An essay by Llewelyn Powys

Many a merry meeting
My love and I have had;
 She was my only sweeting
She made my heart full glad.
llewelyn powys, the twelve monthsTHE MONTH OF JUNE may be considered as the queen of all the months of the year. Ovid declared that it derives its name from Juno, the Queen of Heaven, and this derivation is more in keeping with the proud beauty of these weeks of midsummer than is the commonplace one now generally accepted. It was named the ‘Dry month’ by the Saxons, but the word dry is not a very apposite epithet for describing June in England which is a month remarkable for the abundance of its fresh foliage. It may be regarded as the month of consummation. The sap that stirred in April and ran riot in May, by midsummer has created out of the air, out of nothing, millions upon millions of new outspreading leaves. All through the winter the sun shone upon bare twigs, bare branches, bare boughs, but these are now shaded by delicate upheld hands of palest green, by living hands of marvellous fabrication, by hands that breathe and bask through the bland day-time hours, and remain during the short summer nights cool and dedicated under the dreaming stars.

The Barnaby Bright.

All day and no night.

  I can remember the very occasion when I first heard that happy-sounding rhyme as it came from the lips of my mother in her efforts to explain why it was that I should be sent to bed before even the sparrows had begun the chittering of their roosting hour in the massed jasmine outside my night-nursery window. In these times when we delude ourselves with altered clocks, the June nights seem short indeed. There is a particular transparent whiteness, like a reflection from the crystal floor of heaven, that belongs to the nights on each side of the longest day, and which never seems quite to fade out of the sky during the solstice period. We, the living lusty populations of England, go about actively preoccupied with our social frivolities, showing little conscious realization of the terms of our existence, fast imprisoned as we are in the importunate illusions of our experience.

  England in the small hours of a midsummer night is held under a glamour. What a new immaterial buoyancy is in the cosmic atmosphere lingering so lightly in the Western horizon, present so early in the East! We are not forgetting how the frowardness and greed of man has drenched the earth with blood; we are not forgetting how the cries and groans of tortured animals and exploited labourers have for generations reached to the pitiless clouds and ‘nothing said’, but even in the face of such knowledge it would be impossible in June not to recognize that the earth we live upon is a paradise lost. The air we breathe at this time is no common ozone. It is an air fresh as the breath of a thistle-eating donkey. It is an air dulcet and cool as the dew upon a mushroom’s white globe. Every one who is alive and in England in June is alive in a faery land.

  In all the shires hay-making takes place during this month. In mornings of dazzling heat men may be seen tossing the tanned fodder into aromatic heaps: ‘Wi’ their earms in white sleeves, left an’ right.’ Little emerald hip-frogs leap out of the way of blind crushing boots as with spotted bellies and triangular legs they are at pains to preserve the miracle of their singular existence.

The business of the day is done.

The last-left haymaker is gone.

And from the thyme upon the height.

And from the elder-blossom white

And pale dog-roses in the hedge.

And from the mint-plant in the sedge.

In puffs of balm the night-air blows

The perfume which the day forgoes.

  The night falls, and over the hushed meadow, over the hedgerows garlanded with twisted honeysuckle tods, hungry owls float silently by intent to surprise any over-bold mouse that has had the temerity to forage for a harmless diet in the damp inch-high jungles of the close-cut open field.

  Cabbage-roses are out in midnight gardens by water-lily fish pools, at the ends of wide terraces, and by red-brick kitchen garden walls. In covert and wood brown seeds may already be seen fringing the undersides of hidden ferns. How soft the moss is in such places! How still the pink campions in the white light of the small hours fanned by the damask wings and woolly abdomens of night-wandering moths! The whiteness of the night gives place at last to the whiteness of the dawn. The partridge is heard calling to her newly hatched brood that still carry on tender chicken feathers fragments of their natal shells! The wood-pigeons have begun the murmur of their content. Fortunate indeed are the boys and girls, summer lovers, who are out and abroad together in these hours of enchantment.

  The month of June has always been recognized as the most favourable month for marriages. How many dead bones would gladly gather themselves to life could they once again be wed to their sweethearts in June! The word ‘wed’ in Anglo-Saxon meant a pledge. One pledge or wed took the form of a ring that as soon as a lover had gained the consent of his lady would be placed on the diird finger of her right hand, until put, on her wedding-day, upon her left-hand ‘Betty Bodkin’ finger, there being rumoured some close association between this finger and the heart of a girl in love. Then on bended knee the man would take the woman, as the old words said, ‘For fairer, for fouler, for better, for worse’, she on her part vowing that she would always be ‘buxom and bonny’ to her chosen lord. The luckiest wedding-day of all the year is on the day of the full moon in June, but even on this day it must be remembered as the church is approached that it is ill luck to have a monk, or a hare, or a cat cross your path. Should the bride, on the other hand, happen to catch sight of a spider or a toad it may be taken as a fortunate sign.

  When Jesus said ‘God is Love’ he was giving expression to an utterance of profound wisdom. The way of a man with a maid is close to the core of life’s mystery. Such love is deeper than all racial or national differences. It can cancel all rancour and transform the aggressive, self-absorbed isolation of the individual. To love and be loved is the only thing that really matters in life, and it is to this supreme emotion that the month of June is especially dedicated.

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

01 March 2017

The full contents of the inventory of the Powys Society Collection located at Exeter University will be uploaded to this website during the coming weeks. All files (which open in a new tab or window) will be available to read in PDF format. The catalogue is extensive -- 'work in progress' is underway.


Articles and Books About

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Miscellaneous Articles and Books About

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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 conference in August
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

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

philippa powys, the blackthorn winter, the powys society, sundial press
littleton powys, the joy of it,  front cover, sundial press      
a r powys, repair of ancient buildings
Philippa Powys

Littleton Powys

A.R. Powys

glastonbury tor


durdle door
Glastonbury Tor
Montacute Durdle Door

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