Llewelyn Powys Birthday
Monday 13 August
Celebrating the life, work and philosophy of
|Change of venue for Lunch!
Due to THE SAILOR’S RETURN at East Chaldon being
closed each Monday and Tuesday lunch times, and thus will not be available for
our members when they gather for the annual Llewelyn Birthday Walk on Monday
August 13th, we have decided to meet instead at the RED LION at Winfrith at 12
noon for the annual toast to Llewelyn's memory and some lunch.
Then to gather
at The Sailor's Return in East Chaldon at 1.30pm for a reading prior to
commencing the annual Birthday Walk to Llewelyn's Stone.
13 August 2018
Details of three Powys Society events for 2018 are listed below.
[Details of a fourth event -- in London -- will be announced soon.]
Two Powys Days for 2018
The Old Fire Engine House, restaurant and art gallery,
at 25 St Mary’s Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire
Aspects of A Glastonbury Romance
A Discussion led by
member Kevin Taylor will lead a
discussion of A Glastonbury Romance, Chapter
15, Mark’s Court, as well as a
discussion of the character of Cordelia as she appears, in selected passages, throughout
According to his diary JCP commenced writing Chapter 15 of A Glastonbury Romance in early January 1931:
“Wrote my Mark’s Moor Court chapter about
Mr Geard in Merlin’s chamber and Lady Rachel and all. This is because the T.T.
required a certain element of Romance which so far had not appeared among the
solid bourgeois characters of this book!” (diary, 7 January 1931). This is
one of JCP’s “clue” chapters providing some deep insights into Mr Geard’s
complex identity and his unorthodox Christian beliefs. The chapter, which is
set on Easter Day, has been called, by one critic, “one of the great climaxes of the book”. Our President, Glen
Cavaliero, has also described Mr Geard as “one
of JCP’s supreme creations”. This is a judgement which is perfectly
demonstrated in this chapter. It is also a chapter which also demonstrates
JCP’s genius for comedy and irony. Our discussion will give us an opportunity
to look in detail at JCP’s ability to evoke the shifting margins of human consciousness,
through an analysis of the figure of Mr Geard, and how this effects his
character’s perceptions of the world. We will examine the significance of Mr
Geard’s apparent encounter with the supernatural, the meaning of his “Christ supported nature”, his powers of
psychic projection, his double nature - he blesses the unquiet spirit in the
haunted room of King Mark: “Christ have
mercy on you”, yet JCP also refers to the “diabolic intensity of his dark eyes”; we will examine Mr Geard’s sudden
sense of illumination and his recognition of the Grail which occurs at the
conclusion of the chapter. We will also look at how JCP realises his intention
for Mr Geard as outlined in his diary: “Mr
Geard must think of the secret of real life beyond the spectacular world.” Other
diary entries in early January 1931(see the complete diary published by Jeffrey
Kwintner in 1990) provide some very useful references to the evolution of JCP’s
ideas about Mr Geard. In our
discussion of Cordelia as a character, we will examine some selected passages about Cordelia
throughout the whole book, referring to JCP’s psychological insights into her
personality, focusing, for instance, on Chapter
7, Carbonek, in the scene on Chalice Hill and at the great oaks; on Chapter 25, Conspiracy, in the scene of
Cordelia’s marriage to Owen Evans where she overhears the murder plot discussed
in the ruined chantry; and Chapter 29, The
Iron Bar, in the scene in which she exorcises a worm. A comprehensive reading list, with page references, of selected passages
about Cordelia has been prepared by Kevin Taylor and can be provided in advance
of the meeting to help aid discussion. Please contact Hon. Secretary for a copy of the reading list if you wish to attend
The meeting will take place at The Old Fire Engine House, restaurant and art gallery, at 25 St
Mary’s Street, Ely, which is located near the Cathedral. We will meet in the
upstairs sitting room at 10.30 for
coffee and welcome. Discussion of Chapter 15 will begin at 11.00. Lunch, which is
optional, will be available from 12.00
to 13.00. We will recommence our discussion after lunch with a study of
Cordelia as a character.
Saturday 7 July
The Library, Dorset County Museum, Dorchester
(i) The Powyses and
Patchin Place, New York
An illustrated talk
by Ray Crozier
relationships with Phyllis, Llewelyn,
Alyse Gregory, and Gamel Woolsey during
his five year residence at Patchin Place.
A Parallel Reading of two short stories:
Nor Iron Bars by T. F. Powys and A
Friend in Need by W. Somerset Maugham.
A talk by John Williams
. . . in which “We may also discover that Powys and Maugham
have more in common than we might first have thought.”
At 10.30 for 11.00 start, Ray Crozier will
present an illustrated talk on The
Powyses and Patchin Place, New York. Refreshments will be provided.
Ray will look at JCP’s relationships
with Phyllis, Llewelyn, Alyse Gregory, and Gamel Woolsey during his five year
residence at Patchin Place as well as the wider historical background of this
locality of New York, including the social and cultural context of Patchin
Place, its place in the history of New York bohemian artistic and literary life
in the 1920s, and its significance in JCP’s biography as a place of refuge and
retreat for writing. Ray will also refer to other neighbours, writers, friends,
colleagues and relatives who either made visits to the Powyses or were
residents there. There are memorable descriptions of Patchin Place in JCP’s Autobiography, An Englishman Upstate, Farewell
to America, JCP’s letters to Phyllis and Llewelyn and in his short story The Owl, the Duck, and Miss Rowe, Miss Rowe!
Members may also wish to consult a useful booklet in the Powys Heritage series
published by Cecil Woolf in 2002, called We
Lived in Patchin Place by Boyne Grainger, edited by Tony Head. See also
Patrick Quigley’s article on Patchin Place in la lettre powysienne, No.19, printemps 2010.
lunch at 2.00pm, John Williams will
lead a discussion entitled First
Impressions A Parallel Reading of two short stories, Nor Iron Bars by T. F.
Powys, and, A Friend in Need by W. Somerset Maugham. John asks “Have you ever been caught out (for better
or for worse) by discovering that your first impression of someone was
ill-informed?” He says that “Nor Iron
Bars and A Friend in Need are very
different stories by two very different kinds of writer. What these stories
have in common is the way they set out to surprise us with unexpected and
thought-provoking aspects of the characters of their major protagonists, Joseph
Turvey (TFP) and Edward Hyde Burton (Somerset Maugham). By sharing our
responses to these stories we will be able to appreciate ways in which both
writers are masters of the genre. We may also discover that Powys and Maugham
have more in common than we might first have thought. Although you may end up
with a preference for one or other of these stories, the intention is not to
decide which is best, they are too different for that to be helpful!” TFP’s
story Nor Iron Bars was first
published in the collection called The
House with the Echo in 1928. Somerset Maugham’s story has a more
complicated history. It was written under the title A Friend in Need in 1924 and published in Hearst’s International Magazine combined with
Cosmopolitan in April 1925 (USA) and in Nash’s
Magazine (UK) in August 1925 under the title The Man Who Wouldn’t Hurt a Fly. It subsequently appeared in book
form in a collection of magazine stories called Cosmopolitans in 1936 under the original title of A Friend in Need. John has compiled a
list of subjects for discussion at the meeting. If you would like a copy of
this list please notify Hon Secretary
who will also send you a pdf file of
each story. A Friend in Need is
widely available in the Collected Short
Stories of Somerset Maugham, Vol. 2, published by Vintage.
John Williams was Professor of
literary studies at the University of Greenwich from 2006 until his recent
retirement. He has published numerous articles on TFP which have appeared in
past issues of the Newsletter, the Powys Review and the Powys Journal. John has also written a
biography of Wordsworth as well as books on English poetry. He presented talks
on TFP at our conferences in 1995 and 2004 and led a TFP study day in
Dorchester in 2005. John was editor of the Powys
Journal between 1997 and 1999 and was Chairman
of the Powys Society in 2000/2001.
events are free and everyone is welcome.
A charge will be
made for optional lunch at Ely and Dorchester.
|Two POWYS Days 2017
ELY, Saturday 29
Porius and Myrddin Wyllt
Old Fire Engine House, restaurant and art gallery, 25
St. Mary’s Street, Ely
John Hodgson will lead a
discussion of two chapters from JCP’s novel Porius:
Chapter III The Stranger and Chapter
XV Myrddin Wyllt. Both chapters
provide a good opportunity to explore JCP’s conception of the deep and elusive
character of Merlin. For background reading members may wish to consult a
useful essay by Mark Patterson, ‘The
Origin of John Cowper Powys’s Myrddin Wyllt’ in the Powys Review, No.25, 1990; also see JCP’s own comments on his ideas
about Merlin in his notes on the characters of Porius published in Powys
Newsletter, No.4, 1974-1975 (Colgate University Press); and JCP’s letters
to Norman Denny at the Bodley Head, in 1949 and 1950, which include references
to the role of Merlin in Porius,
published in Powys Notes, Fall and
Winter 1992. Nikolay Tolstoy sympathetically discusses JCP’s interpretation of
Merlin in his The Quest for Merlin
of the meeting is the Old Fire Engine
House, restaurant and art gallery, 25 St. Mary’s Street, Ely, located near
the Cathedral. The meeting will take place in the upstairs sitting room and
commence at 10.30 for welcome and coffee. Discussion of Chapter III of Porius will begin at 11.00. Lunch will
be available from 12.00 to 13.00. We will recommence our discussion with an
examination of Chapter XV of Porius after
EXETER, Thursday 15 June 2017
A one day literary symposium
University, Old Library, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter
aim of the symposium is to identify potential for wider study of the books and
documents in the Powys Society collection, present current research at Exeter
University into writing about the south west region of England and show how
analysis of original archival material can help broaden our understanding and
appreciation of authors and their literary works.
one day symposium will focus on the rich resources of the literary archives of
the Heritage Collections at Exeter University where the Powys Society
collection is now held. There will be an opportunity to hear talks by experts
in the field of literary research and the handling of archival materials,
participate in an open discussion and view examples of original documents,
manuscripts, letters and books selected from the archives and literary papers of
Exeter’s Heritage Collections including the Powys Society collection. The
symposium will conclude with readings from works of the writers discussed
during the day.
include Michael Kowalweski, Powys
Society Collection Liaison Officer, Christine
Faunch, Head of Heritage Collections, University of Exeter; Dr Chris Campbell, Lecturer at University of Exeter in Global Literatures. Dr
Campbell’s research focuses on the intersections of world literature,
postcolonial theory and environmental criticism and Dr Luke Thompson, writer, publisher and editor. Luke Thompson
lectures at Falmouth University and is a former student at Exeter University. He
has recently published a biography of Cornish poet, Jack Clemo entitled Clay Phoenix.
event will open at 10.30 for welcome and coffee and commence at 11.00. We will
break for lunch at 12.30 when there will also be an opportunity to examine a
display of documents from the archives. We will recommence with talks and
discussion at 14.00. The symposium will close at approximately 16.30.
22 June 2017 A brief account:
Introduced by Christine Flaunch the Head of the Heritage Collection who
made available a comprehensive display from the archive. Weighted and
nestling on cushions were books, letters, manuscripts and documents
from all the brothers along with wood engravings and related
publications there for us to leaf over. And how wonderful that was to
read whilst experiencing the texture of the paper and colour of the
ink. For visual pleasure we delighted in the letters written by JCP on
engraved hotel note paper sent whilst on lecture tours in America.
Kowalewski gave a comprehensive introduction outlining the very good
reasons for studying the Powyses. He expressed how saddened he is by
the neglect of this family of high achievers. He talked affectionately
about TFP and eulogised about JCP’s ‘grand sweep of cosmic
consciousness’ and his ability to seamlessly move from the everyday
through nature to the cosmic and to the internal mythology of the
characters. He read a passage from Wolf Solent.
Thompson, published author of the unusual life of Jack Clemo described
Clemo's relationship with T.F. Powys. He made a sensationalist
description of Clemo as syphilitic which gave the impression that he
was debauched rather than suffering from the congenital condition. In
fact Clemo was deeply Christian with an extraordinary will. His
relationship with T F, Thompson thought, was based on his admiration,
respect and longing for TF to be the father he never had.
Campbell grew up in Weymouth. Ideally placed to know the town
intimately his paper on Weymouth Sands looked at the industrial
underpinning of Portland stone. Explaining the ecological and economic
changes that are charted by the lives of the characters in WS. He
discussed WS as a localised optic to the commodity frontiers that
operates worldwide. A very interesting and novel theoretical approach
to the investigation of WS illustrating JCP’s political awareness and
the subtle way that it appears in his work.
There will be a full report of the Exeter Symposium in the July Society Newsletter
Both events are free and everyone is
A charge will be made for optional lunch at Ely.
towards costs of refreshments at both Ely and Exeter would be very much
The Powys Society Conference, 2017
The Hand Hotel, Bridge
Friday 18th to Sunday 20th August
‘Where the spirit
Speakers: Grevel Lindop, David
Goodway, David Stimpson and Patrick Quigley
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 position...it 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. (To be continued . . . )
Full details of the Conference 2017
Two POWYS Days 2016
ELY, Saturday 23
Maiden Castle by
John Cowper Powys
Lewis will lead a discussion of Maiden
Chapter 5, 'The Scummy Pond', at the Old Fire Engine House,
restaurant and art gallery, 25 St Mary’s Street, Ely, which is located
Cathedral. We will meet in the upstairs sitting room at 10.30am for
welcome and coffee. Our discussion will commence at 11.00. Lunch will
be served in the
restaurant from 12.00 to 13.00. The
discussion will recommence in the afternoon.
MAIDEN CASTLE was first
published in the USA in 1936 (the New
York Times thought it was “bewildering
because of its complete lack of movement”), and in the UK in 1937 (the TLS review said that it “moves within a realm of its own”). Our
President, Glen Cavaliero, has called Maiden
Castle JCP’s most “Lawrentian”
novel and W.J. Keith called it “the work
of a literary master” although “not a
fully achieved novel”. The book was drastically cut by JCP’s American editor
– “he’s a snipper not a slasher” said
JCP. Maiden Castle did not appear in
its original unabridged form until a new edition was published by the
University of Wales Press, edited by Ian Hughes in 1990. The Daily Telegraph review of the new
edition called the novel “extraordinary”.
JCP began writing the story in August 1934 at Rat’s Barn, on the Dorset downs,
on his return to the UK from America but he found it difficult to decide on the
form the story should take. It was not until after he had moved to Dorchester
on 8 October 1934 and started to rewrite the novel in January 1935 that he settled
on the main setting in Dorchester itself reflecting his own daily routine and
meetings with people. His working title for the Dorchester novel was now “Dud No-Man’s Girl”. Maiden Castle is particularly notable for its morbidity and
obsession with death – Urien Quirm has “dead
eyes”, he smells of mortality and is associated with a “corpse god”.
Castle is a very troubling novel much concerned with frustrated desire,
tangled human relationships, the dark influence of family history and the
ancient mythological past. But Maiden
Castle is also remarkable for its wealth of realistic detail and especially
naturalistic evocations. Chapter five
begins with a portrait of Dud No Man’s domestic life in the flat he shares with
Wizzie Ravelston in Friary Lane (a self portrait of JCP and Phyllis) and ends
with an astonishing climactic scene on the approach to the ramparts of Maiden
Castle, “the mystical city of Dunium”,
where the ‘nameless bastard’s’ true identity and his relationship to the
grotesque figure of Urien Quirm is revealed. In between these events JCP weaves
his way leisurely examining the interrelationships of his characters, commenting
on certain astrological influences – Dorchester is described as “a city under the sign of water”, and exploring
the theme of the quest for identity, integrity and the search for inner
meaning. There is comedy in the scene at the Antelope hotel and the literary
luncheon hosted by Mr Comber. In the fully restored edition of the novel we may
now also better appreciate JCP’s description of “the magic of flowers”. There is a good discussion of the
significance of JCP’s description of cuckoo flowers in Chapter 5, in the scene
set alongside the water meadows on the path to the blue bridge, in Harald
Fawkner’s book, JCP & the Elements
(Powys Press, 2015). The textual history of the novel has also been published
in an article by Ian Hughes in Powys
Review No.12, 1982/1983. The abandoned parts of the novel can be consulted
at the Powys Collection at Exeter University and were printed in the Powys Review No. 15, 1984/1985. For an
interesting personal response to the
novel see W.J Keith’s article in la lettre
Powysienne, No. 16, Autumn, 2008.
Venue: The Old Fire Engine House (restaurant and art gallery),
25 St Mary’s Street, Ely.
in the upstairs sitting room at 10.30am for welcome and coffee.
will commence at 11.00.
Lunch will be served in the restaurant from 12.00 to
13.00. The discussion will recommence in the afternoon.
Saturday 16 July 2016
T.F. POWYS’s Religious and Metaphysical ideas
Kowalewski, the Society’s Collection Liaison Officer, will present an informal
talk and lead a discussion on the theme of T.F.Powys’s religious and metaphysical ideas illustrated by an
examination of passages from An
Interpretation of Genesis, Father
Adam and other works by TFP. In his talk Michael will explore TFP’s
original ideas about religion, his visionary fantasies and religious symbolism, his
dualist beliefs, love of the Bible, his mysticism, pantheism, and antinomianism.
A.E. Waite, the occultist, in a discussion of TFP’s religious unorthodoxy,
referred to his paradoxes, contradictions, as well as his reverence, sense of
immanence and his ability to produce “brilliant epigrams”.
venue for the meeting is the library of the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.
Coffee and welcome is at 10.30am.
The meeting will commence at 11.00.
Lunch will be from 13.00 to 14.00 at
a nearby restaurant.
AN INTERPRETATION OF GENESIS, written in an
archaic biblical style in the form of a dialogue, was TFP’s first published
work, privately printed in 1908 with the help of Louis Wilkinson and JCP, and distributed
by William Rider & Son, but was also later reprinted by Chatto and Windus
in 1929. On its first publication the book was favourably reviewed in Aleister
Crowley’s magazine, Equinox, in March
1910, which noted the influence of the Kabbalah and dualism and stated: “This is a most mystical interpretation of
the most beautiful of the books of the Old Testament... It is a little volume which one who reads will grow fond of, and will
carry about with him, and open at random in quiet places, in the woods and nder
FATHER ADAM was written in
1919 but remained unpublished during TFP’s lifetime. It did not appear until
1990 in a modern edition. In Powys Notes,
Fall 1990, Anne Barbaeu Gardiner reviewed the novel and called it “a theological novel and will attract the
sort of reader who would enjoy Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.” A useful guide to the many levels of meaning
and reference in Father Adam can be found in an article by L. R. Leavis, T.F.Powys in Perspective, the significance
of Father Adam in the Powys Review,
'Father Adam by T. F. Powys,
edited by Ian Robinson. (The Brynmill Press Ltd, £8.40)—delightfully produced
edition of Powys’s first mature tale which is a must for anyone interested in
the mordant and yet sympathetically ironic vision of the English rural scene.
The tragedy of innocence in the preacher of the Ten Commandments, Father Adam,
looks forward to the story, “The Box of Sweets”, and the overwhelming vision of
Ralph Crew, a young man who believes his calling to be “that of reforming and
regenerating the people of the whole world”, is an early suggestion of Powys’s
bleakly comic masterpiece, Mr Weston’s Good Wine.’ — The Use of
English Vol. 54, No. 3
Both events are free although a charge will
be made for lunch which is optional. We welcome contributions towards the costs
of coffee and refreshments. Everyone is welcome to attend including non
The Powys Society Conference, 2016
The Wessex Hotel, Street, nr Glastonbury
Friday 12th August to Sunday 14th
Including guest speakers
Reichmann, Paul Cheshire and Peter Foss. Also, novelist Lindsay
Chymical Wedding), who will present a talk on JCP's Porius,
and Frank Wintle who will introduce the screening of a documentary film he made
in 1986 for South West TV about the complicated relationship between Frances
Gregg (JCP’s greatest love before he met Phyllis Playter), the poet H.D. (Hilda
Doolittle), Ezra Pound, Louis Wilkinson and JCP, including the discovery, in
strange circumstances, of Pound’s original manuscript of poems dedicated to
H.D. (written to H.D. in the romantic manner of Swinburne, William Morris and
Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1905 before he began experimenting with modernism).
Full Conference details, Booking Form, here
A number of back copies are available from the Powys Society of POWYS NOTES; the
semi-annual publication of the Powys Society of North America which appeared
between 1985 and 2000 under the editorial control of Denis Lane, Richard
Maxwell and Nicholas Birns.
Please contact Hon. Secretary, by e-mail, at
firstname.lastname@example.org , or write to Hon Secretary at 87 Ledbury Road,
London, W11 2AG, for details of availability and costs including postage.
list of issues including titles of articles is also available. These issues of
Powys Notes have been kindly donated to the Society by Katie Trumpener, wife of
Richard Maxwell (1948-2010), who was also past editor of the Powys Journal.
Please see Richard’s obituary by Charles Lock in PS NL No.71, November 2010.
For a list of contents of available issues, please click here.
JOHN COWPER POWYS ON FILM
IS MODERN MARRIAGE A FAILURE?
A debate between John Cowper Powys and Bertrand Russell
Outtakes of JCP filmed on December 6, 1929
To view the footage please click on the following external link here
Events for 2015
Saturday, 5 December
THE PLEASURES OF
past Chairman, John Hodgson, will lead a discussion of The Pleasures of
Literature, by John Cowper Powys, published in the UK by Cassell & Co.,
in November 1938. The American edition was published in October 1938 under the
title The Enjoyment of Literature, by Simon & Schuster.
Langridge in (1966) noted variations
between the two editions. The American edition for instance lacks the long
essay on St. Paul, which JCP's American editor, Quincey Howe, disliked. Our
discussion will focus on JCP's attitude to world literature and his favourite
authors, expresed especially in the Introduction and the Conclusion, comparing
his choice of writers with the authors he discusses in John Cowper Powys, A Record of AchievementVisions and Revisions
(1915), 100 Best Books (1916), and Suspended Judgements (1916).
JCP's response to literature, which determined his choice of writers, can be found in summary
at the end of the Introduction to The Pleasures of Literature:
"Books...are man's word against the cosmic dumbness, man's life against
the planetary death, man's revelation of the God within him, man's repartee to
the God without him." JCP wrote most of the essays in The Pleasures of
Literature in 1937 following a commission from Simon and Schuster in 1936,
between the publication of Maiden Castle (1936), Morwyn (1937) and finishing
Owen Glendower (first published 1940 in USA).
of the meeting, Bunhill Meeting House, is located through a rectangular archway
off Banner Street, a short walk from Old Street Underground station. It is set
on the edge of the recently replanted and refurbished Quaker Gardens. For more
information about the venue including a local map please visit the Bunhill
All are welcome. The event is free, although a contribution would be welcome,
with refreshments provided after the discussion.
|Venue: the Bunhill
Meeting House, Quaker Court, Banner Street, London EC1Y 8QQ
at 2pm for 2.30pm start on Saturday 5 December.
The Powys Society
Friday 21st to
Sunday 23rd August 2015
‘Signs and Wonders’
THE ART OF HAPPINESS
An illustrated talk by Charles Beauclerk
7.00 pm Monday 20 April 2015
Digby Memorial Church Hall
Beauclerk, the celebrated author of Shakespeare’s Lost
Kingdom, Nell Gwyn, The Piano Man etc., will be giving an illustrated talk
about John Cowper Powys entitled The Art of Happiness. (The lecturer, incidentally, is also the Earl of Burford and heir
to the Duke of St. Albans, but much prefers to be known simply as Charles
Beauclerk.) He will be concentrating on Powys as philosopher, with particular
reference to The Art of Happiness, a work rich in wisdom and humour.
|This event is
arranged by the Friends of St Basil’s, Toller Fratrum, Dorset.
Tickets cost £5 and are available
The Parish Office, Sherborne Abbey, 3 Abbey Close, Sherborne, DT9 3LQ
Tel: 01935 812452
(Office hours: Monday—Friday 9.00am—12.30pm and 2.00pm—4.30pm)
Two Powys Days for 2015
MONTACUTE, Saturday 25th April
This year marks the centenary of Wood
and Stone which was first published in America by G. Arnold Shaw in
November 1915 and in the UK by Heinemann in February 1917. Wood and Stone was
reprinted by the Village Press in 1974 and by Faber in 2008. Wood and Stone can
also be found on-line at the Internet Archive. Chris Thomas will lead a
discussion of Wood and Stone in its original location and setting. The venue
for the meeting is The Kings Arms located opposite St Catherine’s church. The
village of Nevilton, in Wood and Stone, with its twin hills, is of course
recognisably Montacute. The invented names of local places in the novel such as
Leo’s Hill, Badger’s Bottom, Root Thatch Lane and Dead Man’s Lane, are clearly
based on the real places JCP knew so well. JCP evokes with intense memory
recall the place of his childhood and youth, its fields, lanes and orchards:
“What enchantments were all around him”, says the author, “What memories! What
dumb voices.” But he also knew its suffocating claustrophobia: “English
vicarages are dreadful places”, he says. Wood and Stone was written during the
summer of 1915 in Burpham. Apparently, according to JCP, it was his wife,
Margaret, who suggested the title. She must have read the novel in manuscript
and perhaps she was inspired by the passage about wood against stone, tears
weeping into stone and men transformed into the elements. The book was very
popular with its first readers although the reviewers on both sides of the
Atlantic were divided about its qualities. Arnold Shaw, cranking up his
publicity machine, ranked it alongside Dostovesky. One of the first detractors
of the novel was Louis Wilkinson who lambasted it in Blasphemy and Religion
(1916), and compared it unfavourably to TFP’s Soliloquy of a Hermit which he
considered a work of art. JCP himself seems to have been dissatisfied with the
book, and looking back called it “a silly novel”. A useful place to start a
discussion of Wood and Stone is JCP’s lofty Preface, which introduces the
grandiose theme of the struggle between power and love and tyranny and freedom,
and includes references to Nietzsche, cosmic chaos, the “imaginative mirror of
art”, the secret of the universe, a critique of the modern novel and a tribute
to Thomas Hardy and his adherence to “the old ample ironic way” which JCP
clearly also wants to adopt. There is hardly any plot in Wood and Stone. JCP’s
intention seems to be to try and capture a sense of the panorama of life and
the effect of the spirit of a particular place on the lives of his characters.
Wood and Stone prefigures the great novels of his maturity, he demonstrates
psychological insight into the inner world of his people, the characters have
distinctive Powysian names such as Mr Wone, Mr Quincunx, Witch-Bessie, and Mrs
Wotnot, the language and imagery have what we now recognise to be
characteristic Powysian features, there is a powerful sense of umbrageous
plenitude, of the “indolent luxuriousness” and “leafy exuberance” of nature.
The novel is notable for its wealth of classical allusions (sometimes he hardly
seem to advanced beyond the poem To Montacute in Odes and Other Poems, 1896),
as well as for JCP’s ability to evoke effects of light and colour, the changing
seasons, and his ability to recreate the minute particulars of things such as
“oozy stalks”, and “moist adhesive tendrils”. We are made to experience the
breathing of the earth itself as if everything is alive. Yet there is also a
sense of the dark downward pull of the earth suggesting a sinister and
unpleasant atmosphere. This kind of writing reaches its apogee in chapters IX,
X, and XII. Because Wood and Stone stands at the beginning of JCP’s career as a
published novelist this makes it very well worth our study and attention. Our
discussion will also consider Wood and Stone in the context of other
For helpful background reading to Wood and Stone see articles by W J
Keith in Powys Notes, Winter 1998, Paul Roberts in the Powys Journal, vol. IX,
1999, Arjen Mulder, in the Powys Journal, vol. XIX, 2009, Penny Smith in the
Powys Review, No.11,1982/1983 and by Margaret Moran in the Powys Review, No.17,
In the afternoon members may wish to explore Montacute and visit places
mentioned in the novel such as St Catherine’s church and churchyard, the Priory
Farm, take a tour of Montacute House, gardens and the parklands or walk to
Montacute Hill and the “thyrsus” shaped tower or walk to Ham Hill Country Park
(Leo’s Hill) from where there are fine views of the surrounding countryside.
coffee is at 10.30. Discussion starts at 11.00. Lunch can
be taken at the venue at 13.00.
If you are travelling to the venue by public
transport there is a limited bus service from Yeovil bus station (take
route No.81 towards South Petherton which stops in The Borough. The journey
time is approximately 15 minutes).
DORCHESTER, Saturday 20th June 2015
At the Dorset
County Museum Dorchester, Paul Cheshire
will present a talk entitled “John Cowper Powys and Wordsworth’s ‘cerebral
mystical passion for young women’” taking as his theme the passage in Autobiography about JCP’s perception of
Wordsworth’s “abnormally sensual sensitiveness to the elements”. In his talk
Paul Cheshire will explore the relationship between JCP and Wordsworth. Paul
says that “to call Wordsworth ‘my great master’ is a sure sign of JCP’s feeling
of indebtedness to him. However, the ‘cerebral mystical passion’ he attributes
to Wordsworth is a prominent feature in his own fiction and in his self-styling
as a nympholept. This is not simply a projection on JCP’s part: if one re-reads
Wordsworth’s Lucy poems while under the influence of JCP’s sensibility, those
poems resonate as if he has provided a key to their secret life. Wordsworth
‘Imagining himself a girl’ may push beyond the demonstrable, but this
provocative Powysian reading also beckons to be explored. The other ‘mystical
passion’ these two writers share is their sense of a near-erotic pagan
numinosity of the dead who lie beneath the earth. Wordsworth’s Lucy would have
particular interest to JCP, who held so many dialogues with inhabitants of
graves real and imaginary in his novels and in his life. Thomas Hardy’s Egdon
Heath – where King Lear was stripped of all his vanities - is a fit Dorchester
setting for these meditations, as Hardy too has much to say about death and
sacrifice on the heath”. Until recently Paul
Cheshire served as a Trustee of the Friends of Coleridge. He has written a number of articles on
Coleridge and his contemporaries, including a chapter on Coleridge’s notebooks
for the Oxford Handbook of S T Coleridge.
He has also written on the influence of seventeenth century hermetic philosophy
on Milton. He is currently researching the life and thought of Coleridge’s
little-known friend, William Gilbert, astrologer and author of an eccentric
theosophical poem, The Hurricane,
which shows the hermetic tradition surviving into the romantic era. He has
created a website dedicated to William Gilbert: www.williamgilbert.com.
The meeting will
commence at 10.30 for 11.00 start. Coffee and refreshments will be available. The
talk will be followed by Q&A and discussion. Lunch will be from 13.00 to
14.00 at a local restaurant. In the afternoon we plan to visit a local place
with Powysian connections.
Both events are
free although a charge will be made for lunch which is optional.
contributions towards the costs of coffee and refreshments.
Everyone is welcome
to attend including non members. If you wish to attend either of these meetings
please notify Hon. Secretary Chris Thomas
Either by e-mail: email@example.com
by telephone on 020 7243
0168 or by post: Flat D, 87 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AG
Saturday 6 December 2014
PAIR DADENI by John Cowper Powys
The Society's past Chairman John Hodgson will lead a
discussion of John Cowper Powys's essay, Pair
Dadeni or The Cauldron of Rebirth
(included in JCP's book Obstinate Cymric,
published by the Druid Press in 1947).
The venue is the Bunhill Meeting House, Quaker
Court, Banner Street, London EC1Y 8QQ,
at 2pm on Saturday 6 December.
Bunhill Meeting House is located through a rectangular archway off
Banner Street, a short walk from Old Street Underground station. It is set on
the edge of the recently replanted and refurbished Quaker Gardens. For more
information about the venue please click here.
All are welcome.
The event is free with refreshments provided
after the discussion.
Two Powys Days for 2014
Brandon, Norfolk, Saturday 26 April 2014
will lead a discussion of the Norfolk chapters of A
Glastonbury Romance: The Will and The River.
The meeting will be held in the function room of the Brandon
House Hotel, which has pleasant views on to the garden, and is
conveniently located just around the corner from Brandon railway
station. Brandon is an old market town on the edge of Thetford
Forest and Brandon Heath. Discussion will be followed by lunch
and a visit to the village of Northwold situated a few miles to
the north of Brandon. Northwold has strong Powys family
associations - JCP’s maternal grandfather, William Cowper
Johnson (1813-1893), the model for Canon Crow in A
Glastonbury Romance, was Rector of Northwold from 1880 to
1892, and JCP, Littleton and Theodore often spent their summer
holidays at the rectory. There are very evocative descriptions
of Northwold in Littleton’s The Joy of It and in JCP’s
Autobiography. In his diary, for 3 to 9 August 1929, JCP
also recorded a visit to his old childhood haunts in Northwold
(helping to provide material for A Glastonbury Romance).
Littleton called Northwold “my boyhood’s Earthly Paradise”.
JCP recalled summer holidays in Northwold and said: “...what
a life that was & how beautiful that house was.” Our visit
to Northwold will provide an opportunity to rediscover the
places described by Littleton and JCP including the rectory, the
round pond in the rose garden, the Wissey, Foulden Bridge,
Harrod’s Mill pond, Dye’s Hole and Oxborough Ferry as well as
other places of local interest such as the church of St.
Andrew’s (which has a memorial to William Cowper Johnson) and
the old Manor House. If time permits some members may wish to
visit nearby Methwold or Yaxham (where William Cowper Johnson is
buried). Welcome and coffee is at 10.30am. Discussion commences
at 11.00am. Lunch will be served in the restaurant from 13.00 to
14.00.If you wish to stay overnight you may reserve B&B
accommodation direct with the hotel.
|Dorchester, Saturday 19 July 2014
At the Dorset County Museum, Dorchester, a talk on the life,
career and writings of John Meade Falkner (1858-1932)
presented by Kenneth Hillier, the founder and Secretary
of the John Meade Falkner Society. The meeting commences
at 10.30am for 11.00am start. Coffee and refreshments will be
available. Lunch will be from 13.00 to 14.00 at a local
restaurant. The author, poet, businessman and teacher, John
Meade Falkner, spent his childhood in Dorchester and Weymouth
and was closely acquainted with many of the locations associated
with the Powys family, such as the South and West Walks in
Dorchester, and Chesil beach, Portland, and the village of Fleet
near Weymouth. Falkner’s most famous novel, Moonfleet
(1898), is set around Chesil and Fleet. Falkner was a friend of
Hardy and a keen collector of medieval books and manuscripts.
After a long business career in the armaments industry he was
appointed senior reader in palaeography at Durham University.
John Meade Falkner was also a poet and author of topographical
guides to Oxford, Berkshire and Bath. Falkner’s first novel,
The Lost Stradivarius (1895) reveals an interest in the
supernatural, the occult and psychological themes that mirror
many of JCP’s own interests as well as popular literary tastes
of the 1890s.
For more information about John Meade Falkner
The talk will be followed by discussion, lunch and a visit to
places associated with Falkner and the Powys family in Weymouth,
Chesil and Abbotsbury.
John Cowper Powys is a writer who changes how you
see the world
"A Glastonbury Romance is deeply flawed, yet
by Michael Henderson in The Telegraph.
Read full article
PROTEUS AND THE MAGICIAN
The Letters of Henry Miller and John Cowper Powys
was launched at the famous Shakespeare & Co bookshop, 37 rue
de la Būcherie, Paris
on Sunday 11 May at 5pm.
Outside Shakespeare & Co bookshop
Front row: Chris Thomas, Fawzia Assaad, Liliane Ruf,
Dana Wentworth, Jacqueline Peltier and Goulven Le
Second row: Marcella Henderson-Peal and Charles Lock
[Price: £10.00 in UK (post free); overseas, please add 40% to cover postage.
Full details can be found on the Publishing News webpage.]
The Madness of John Cowper Powys or Strange Doings at ...
In his late fifties the great novelist and lecturer John
Cowper Powys moved with his companion to a rural cottage in
New England. As Jonathan Law reveals in this remarkable
essay, the remote setting enabled Powys to give full vent to
his bewildering range of manias and eccentricities . . . Read the full article
A review of MR TASKER’S
GOD’S by Dr Kate Macdonald, Ghent University, on the
Vulpes Libris website here.
From CRESCENT MOON
several books about JCP now available as e-books at Amazon and other online
THOMAS HARDY AND JOHN COWPER POWYS: WESSEX REVISITED
by Jeremy Mark Robinson
Thomas Hardy Studies Series Bibliography, notes, index and
ISBN-13 9781861714718 £14.99 / $22.99
R E T H I N K I N G P O W Y S
CRITICAL ESSAYS ON JOHN COWPER POWYS
edited and introduced by Jeremy Mark Robinson
John Cowper Powys Studies Series Bibliography and notes. 2nd
ISBN-13 9781861714541 £4.99 / $7.99
A M O R O U S L I F E
JOHN COWPER POWYS AND THE MANIFESTATION OF AFFECTIVITY
by H.W. Fawkner
John Cowper Powys Studies Series Bibliography and notes. 2nd ed.
ISBN-13 9781861714657 £4.99 / $7.99
P O S T M O D E R N P O W Y S
by Joe Boulter
John Cowper Powys Studies Series Bibliography and notes. 2nd
ISBN-13 9781861714626 £4.99 / $7.99
|15 paintings by Gertrude Mary Powys (1877–1952) now available to view on BBC website
15 paintings by
Gertrude Mary Powys (1877–1952)
are now posted on the BBC "Your Paintings"
You can view them
here (browser will open in new window).
“There is my sister Gertrude, round whom like the sun we
different members of the family like the planets revolve; of her no word of
praise is too high; and I rejoice that now at last she has more time to devote
to the art which for so many years has kept on calling to her.”