Upcoming Society Events

COVID-19: All events currently planned are taking place online.

We long to resume meetings in physical locations as soon as this is advisable, but given the current situation we have, with great regret, replaced the 2021 annual conference as two zoom events
(see full announcement below).

Tuesday 18 May — Zoom Discussion of The Brazen Head by the Reading Powyses Facebook Group

Time: 19:00 BST
All those wishing to participate in the ZOOM discussion please e-mail Dawn Collins at thepowyssocietyfb@btinternet.com.
ZOOM connection details will be emailed to individuals well before the meeting

Robert Greene, Friar Bacon Friar Bungay (1630), title page
Robert Greene, Friar Bacon Friar Bungay (1630), title page

Prof. Wilson Knight tells us

‘Never has Mr Powys used his own infectious delight in narrative to better effect. The range historical, theological and magical interest is vast, but the treatment lucid and carried off with the engaging simplicity of a fairy story. A book of wisdom and wonders’.

The Reading Powyses Facebook Group is open to all who wish to join. We are proceeding through the novels of John Cowper Powys in sequence, enjoying the company of fellow enthusiasts. Since the introduction of Zoom all society members are warmly invited to take part.

Saturday 19 June — Discussion of Powys to Sea Eagle: The Letters of John Cowper Powys to Philippa Powys

This event will be HELD ONLINE by ZOOM at 15:00 BST (Max 1.5 HOURS to 16:30).
  • If any member wishes to join the Zoom discussion, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.
Powys to Sea Eagle book cover

These letters (there are over 200) from JCP to his younger sister Philippa or Katie (1886-1963) cover a period of 50 years from 1911 to 1961 and provide a good introduction to the personal style of JCP’s voluminous correspondence. The letters range over a wide variety of subjects from family and friends, to favourite books and writers (especially Whitman), as well as JCP’s early experiences in America, his life in Wales, his daily walks, his progress with his own writing. They also give a vivid sense of JCP's deep sympathy with his sister’s personal difficulties. The editor of the letters, Anthony Head notes:

In Philippa, Powys had an ideal correspondent, someone open to all avenues of thought, whose responses to the life of the senses and the spirit were, like her brother’s, not subject to the restrictions of a certain religious dogma or metaphysical creed. Of all the Powys brothers and sisters, in many ways, as John Cowper liked to claim to her, they two were most alike.

APPEAL FOR SPARE COPIES:

Would-be readers have been unable to obtain a copy of Powys to Sea Eagle : none are currently available from online booksellers.
If anyone would like to acquire a copy, or sell an unwanted / spare copy, please email powysjournal@icloud.com

Saturday 14 August 2021 — Discussion of JCP’s novel The Brazen Head

Our annual conference scheduled for 13–15 August 2021 will regrettably not take place as a residential weekend. It seems certain that, even following widespread roll-out of the covid-19 vaccine, social distancing and mask wearing will remain a requirement for indoor events (assuming large group meetings are permitted), and this makes impossible any meaningful convivial interaction.

This event will be HELD ONLINE by ZOOM at 15:00 BST (Max 1.5 HOURS to 16:30).
  • If any member wishes to join the Zoom discussion, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.

The Brazen Head, set in the thirteenth century, features the priest scientist Roger Bacon (1220-1292) and his invention of an oracular metallic head. The novel has a large cast of eccentric characters and combines history and theology wIth fantasy. According to our past President Glen Cavaliero the novel is “the most robust of all the author's novels...It is possessed of mental rather than imaginative energy, and is something of a conversation piece. It is the most Peacockian of his novels...its world is typical of Powys's last period being earthy, speculative and genial in tone...The Brazen Head has a far more flexible and lively style than the more famous novels preceding it..” 

The Brazen Head CoverHere are familiar Powysian themes and images - magic wonders, alchemy, magnetism, sense emanations, thought eidola, demonic spirits, a Druidic stone circle, giants, good and evil powers, love and sexual energy. This novel had specific personal significance for JCP for he imagines the medieval world of thirteenth century Wessex (Bacon was born in Ilchester just a few miles from Montacute) and has one chapter entitled The Cerne Giant. In 1955 in a letter to his friend Nicholas Ross JCP spelled out the autobiographical meaning of the novel: “my romance begins and ends in the year of the Devil 1272. Just 600 years before at 6 A.M. in Shirley, Derbyshire. Charles Francis Powys and Mary Cowper Powys had their first-born child. My romance centres round far the most important figure of the Middle Ages, namely ROGER BACON who succeeded in doing what no other human being has ever done before or since. That is to say Friar Roger Bacon, who was infinitely greater than Francis Bacon,[and who] imitated God and created a living soul!

Sunday 15 August 2021 — Powys Society AGM

TO BE HELD ONLINE by ZOOM 15:00 BST (Max 1 HOUR to 16:00)

The Annual General Meeting will be convened as a Zoom video meeting, for those who wish to join by that method. All paid up members of the Powys Society are welcome to participate in the AGM.

  • If any member wishes to join the AGM, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.

AGENDA to follow!


PAST EVENTS 2021

Saturday 24 April 2021 — Discussion of T.F. Powys’ Fables, The Seaweed and the Cuckoo Clock and John Pardy and the Waves.

Led by Paul Cheshire, following a theme provided by John Williams

Frontispiece to Fables by Gilbert Spencer
Frontispiece illustration to Fables
by Gilbert Spencer

This event will be HELD ONLINE by ZOOM at 15:00 BST (GMT+1) (Max 1.5 HOURS to 16:30).
  • If any member wishes to join the Zoom discussion, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.

Although he will not be free on the day, we approached our former chair John Williams as our go-to T.F. Powys aficionado, on whom he has given several well-received talks to the Society in the past. John has provided a discussion document which gives us a starting point for the discussion. He invites (without prescribing!) background reading of poems by Blake, Gray, and Wordsworth as parallel texts that open up interpretation of TFP’s enigmatic fables. His document provides all the necessary passages from these poems.

Further reading:

Tuesday 23 February 2021 — Zoom Discussion of Atlantis by the Reading Powyses Facebook Group

At 19:00 GMT
All those wishing to participate in the ZOOM discussion please e-mail Dawn Collins at thepowyssocietyfb@btinternet.com.
ZOOM connection details will be emailed to individuals well before the meeting

As previously, all are welcome either as contributors or as spectators to our talk about Atlantis, JCP’s 1954 novel that develops the character of Odysseus.

There is something of Rabelais and Dostoievsky in the hilarity and nervousness of this weird book.” — Stevie Smith, Observer

Will we agree ? Available in Faber Finds and through Abe and other used book suppliers.