The 50th Powys Society Conference 2024

The Wessex Hotel, Street, Nr Glastonbury,

Friday 16th to Sunday 18th August 2024

Glastonbury Tor

‘NEVER OR ALWAYS’

On Wednesday 8th October 1930 JCP celebrated his 58th birthday in the middle of writing A Glastonbury Romance. Later that day JCP wrote in his diary: “What peace, what happiness. Now I have opened my present from the T.T. which is Wilhelm Meister the greatest of all philosophical novels except those of Dostoevsky…I open it again and I read the words of Natalie Never or Always and I think this should be found…as the title of Glastonbury…” JCP’s American publisher rejected this idea for a title. But Goethe’s words of course live on at the very end of A Glastonbury Romance when, invoking the name of Cybele, JCP concludes his romance: “Thus she abides; her Towers forever rising, forever vanishing. Never or Always.” Goethe’s epigram seems to reflect JCP’s own philosophy of life for he was capable of holding together many contradictory, and disparate ideas as in, for instance, his description of Llewelyn’s writing style: “It is sometimes continuous. It is sometimes broken, but it always has a golden thread to lead us safely through life.”  

For this our 50th conference we return to the Wessex Hotel in Street situated close to the locations of A Glastonbury Romance and places mentioned by Llewelyn in his regional essays about the West Country. Our speakers will explore a variety of themes evoking Goethe’s epigram such as literary influence, critical neglect, reception and reputation, regionalism, geography, topography, atmosphere, interiors, the idea of ‘home’, thresholds, history, archives, and cultural memory.

On Friday night Charles Lock will examine Llewelyn’s status as a regional writer focusing especially on his essays about people and places in Somerset and Dorset. We are delighted to welcome back to a Powys Society conference Florence Marie who lectures in English studies at the University of Pau in south west France and who delivered a talk on Weymouth Sands at our 2007 conference. Florence will give a lecture on the interior spaces, rooms and thresholds of JCP’s Wessex novels. Goulven le Brech will present a lecture on the Powys archives at IMEC in Caen and will describe the collections of French Powysians such as Michel Gresset, Kenneth White and Jacqueline Peltier. Marcella Henderson-Peal will provide examples of JCP’s translators and publishers in France with reference to source material at IMEC. On Sunday morning Patrick Quigley will examine JCP’s connections with the works of Sir Walter Scott.

On our free Saturday afternoon conference goers will have the opportunity to visit some of the places mentioned by Llewelyn in his essays such as Montacute, the Powys family home from 1885 to 1918 or Stalbridge where the Powys grandfather L. C. Powys was rector from 1838 to 1867. Visitors may wish to go on to Marnhull, Hardy’s Marlott in Tess of the d’Urbervilles, which is situated nearby at the foot of the Blackmore Vale.  On Saturday evening we will show a drama/documentary film about JCP made by Herbert Williams for HTV in 1994 called The Great Powys.

On Sunday, after the AGM, we invite members to discuss subjects raised in the lectures and offer their farewell to each other.

During the conference the book room will be open as usual at selected times. 

Chris Thomas, Hon Secretary

Draft Conference Programme

Friday 16 August

16.00 Arrival
17.30 Reception and Chair's welcome (Paul Cheshire)
18.30 Dinner
20.00 Charles Lock: ‘Llewelyn Powys as a neglected regional writer’

Saturday 17 August

08.00 Breakfast
09.30 Florence Marie: ‘Houses and Huts; Interiors and Thresholds in J.C. Powys’s four Wessex Novels’
10.45 Coffee
11.15 Goulven le Brech and Marcella Henderson-Peal: ‘The Powys archive at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) in Caen, France’
13.00 Lunch
Afternoon free – optional visit to places associated with Llewelyn’s Somerset and Dorset Essays such as Montacute, Stalbridge or Marnhull, travelling through Hardy’s ‘Vale of the Little Dairies’ past the hedges, woodland and small fields of Blackmore Vale. Transport by shared cars.
19.00 Dinner
20.30 A screening of The Great Powys, a drama/documentary film about JCP made for HTV in 1994, written by Herbert Williams and directed by Peter Edwards. The film features Freddie Jones as JCP and Suzanne Bertish as Phyllis. Duration 50 minutes. Members may wish to read a review of the film by Christopher Wilkinson published in Powys Society Newsletter 24, April 1995, pp.17-19.

Sunday 18 August

08.00 Breakfast
09.30 Patrick Quigley: ‘Inexhaustible Vitality: Sir Walter Scott & John Cowper Powys’
10.45 Coffee
11.00 AGM
12.00 Open forum with members: discussion of subjects raised during the conference and farewell messages
13.00 Lunch
15.00 Departure

BOOKING A PLACE AT THE CONFERENCE:

By post:

Please print out and complete the BOOKING FORM and post it to Anna Rosic, 23 Linden Road, Gloucester, GL1 5HB with your cheque payable to The Powys Society (£30 deposit per person, or full fee).

Booking online:

Send Anna Rosic helenapawelko@hotmail.co.uk a scan/photo of your completed form.

TWO WAYS TO PAY ONLINE

Paying by BACS - Online Bank Transfer

If members with UK bank accounts wish to pay by direct bank transfer, please email powysjournal@icloud.uk asking for our bank account details. We will then look out for your payment and acknowledge receipt. For international payments bank charges make this inadvisable — please use PayPal (below)

Paying online by PayPal/credit card:

after emailing your booking form to Anna Rosic, please select a payment option below:


 Single:

£30 Deposit £255 Full £130 Day £15 Event







 
 Couple
:

£60 Deposit £510 Full £260 Day £30 Event








Note that reductions on these rates are available for those who are financially constrained - e.g. students. Please contact the organisers for details

Our Conference Organisers: Anna Rosic (l) and Louise de Bruin (r)

Anna Rosic & Louise De Bruin (powys conference organisers)