The Powys Society Collection and Archive

About the Collection

The Powys Society Collection and Archive was established in 1992 to provide a focus for scholarship into the Powys Family, particularly John Cowper Powys (1872-1963), Theodore Francis Powys (1875-1953), Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939), and their immediate circle of friends.

The core of the Collection consists of major bequests by Mr E.E. Bissell and Mr Francis Feather, who have bequeathed their very important collections of Powys books and manuscripts to the Society in perpetuity. Other gifts and bequests continue to extend and enrich the material available: the most recent accession being unpublished letters from John Cowper Powys to James Abell from 1923 forward.

The manuscripts, typescripts, letters and copies of published works by or about the Powys family, as well as ex libris volumes, are held in Exeter University Library. The Collection also includes an important corpus of Powys family letters, as well as correspondence with their wide circle of friends, including the writers Sylvia Townsend Warner, Huw Menai, Louis Wilkinson, Henry Miller and Elizabeth Myers.

Dorset Museum

Paintings, photographs, wood engravings and memorabilia relating to the Powys Family as well as items donated directly to the Dorset Museum are kept in the Museum at Dorchester. Access to these is according to the Museum’s regulations on archive access. The Museum also exhibits some Powys material in its Writers’ Gallery. There are several works by the painter Gertrude Powys also kept securely at the DM.

Exeter University Old Library Special Collections

The bulk of the Powys Society Collection has been held by Exeter University, Special Collections, Old Library since 2014. Its contents have been fully catalogued in Exeter’s own system. To access the online catalogue please follow the link below:

If you wish to visit the Collection at the University of Exeter (or make enquiries as to availability) please contact Caroline Walter, Senior Curator, to arrange a convenient time and date. The following pages on the Exeter website will be useful:

‘We very much encourage members to come and use the collections – we are a friendly and welcoming team and are always happy to help and advise on collections where we can’. — Caroline Walter, Senior Curator

University of Exeter
Research Commons, Old Library
Prince of Wales Road

Inventory of The Powys Society Collection

The inventory of the collection has now been entirely assimilated into the online catalogue and we recommend any would-be researcher to use the searching aids linked above. However, the old inventory compiled by Morine Krissdottir has been retained and is available here in case it is helpful as an initial finding aid.

The Powys Society Collection Agreement

The Agreement (view PDF) covers the transfer of the Powys Society Collection from Dorset County Museum to Exeter University.