News / What’s New

23 November 2020 — Glen Cavaliero’s obituary in The St Catharine's Magazine

The link takes you to our late President Glen Cavaliero’s obituary on pages 15-17, of The St Catharine’s Magazine, St Catharine’s College Cambridge.

The photo (right), taken from the same article, shows Glen at his home in Portugal Place, Cambridge.
As Dr Paul Hartle writes in the obituary:

“I was thrilled to be supervised in a real house, in Portugal Place; a fellow alumnus writes that Glen’s supervisions were ‘the epitome of the Cambridge experience for me — learning and exposure to our beloved literature without the sense of feeling judged.’”

10 November 2020 — The Powys Review to be Digitised

The Powys Review 31-32, 1997The Powys Review edited by Belinda Humfrey, appeared from No. 1, Spring 1977, through to a double issue nos 31-32, c. 1997. Its first issue included papers from the 1972 John Cowper Powys Centenary Conference, by George Steiner, Angus Wilson and G. Wilson Knight. Over the next twenty years a host of other contributors have helped advance knowledge and appreciation of the Powyses.

Our thanks to Belinda who has given permission for this to be made available on the Powys Society website after scanning. The size of The Powys Review necessitates costly professional scanning, which has just today been authorised by the Committee.

See Newsletter 100, July 2020 for an article by Belinda about her work on The Powys Review, and a tribute by John Hodgson, who describes it as “an extraordinary spur to the Powys revival in the 1970s”.

Our thanks are also due to Kevin Taylor who has been steering this project through to completion.

Watch this space for further news of when the Review will be available and how to access it.

3 November 2020 — The Powys Society Newsletter Digitisation Project

NL 62 CoverBack numbers of The Powys Society Newsletter — which has now reached its hundredth issue — are currently being scanned and added to the website. The scanning, moving steadily backwards, now reaches back to NL 62: November 2007. We expect to reach NL 1: December 1987 by mid-February 2021. These form an invaluable Powys archive whose contents can be word-searched from our own search facility or from any web-based search engine. Indexes to the Newsletters, which provide a more sophisticated form of content search, are also available at the top of the Newsletter page.

The Newsletters’ contents include:

  • a record of all the activities of the Powys Society, in the words of the editors and of many member contributors,
  • previously unpublished Powys letters and diaries,
  • essays, reviews and articles.

Thanks and congratulations are due to the editors:

  • Kate Kavanagh, the current editor, who took over the editorship in November 2001 (NL 44), with Chris Thomas as co-editor from NL 98: Nov 2019.
  • John Batten — NL 33: Nov 1997 to NL 43: July 2001.
  • Paul Roberts — NL 6: Mar 1989 to NL 32: July 1997.
  • Morine Krissdóttir and Griffin Beale — NL 1: Dec 1987 to NL 5: Dec 1988

2 October 2020 — Link Added: A Visit to John Cowper Powys by Clifford Tolchard

Clifford Tolchard with JCP. 1952

Clifford Tolchard (1908-1980), who emigrated to Australia in November 1962, wrote an account of his 1952 visit to JCP at Corwen.

It was on a Saturday in the late autumn that I paid my first visit to John Cowper Powys at his home in Corwen, where he then lived. It was six-fifteen in the morning when I left Birmingham and still dark...more>>

JCP’s Letters to Clifford Tolchard have been published by Village Press.

Tolchard’s account has been posted by by Hans van den Bos on Joyceance, his (primarily — or nominally — Joyce-related) blog. Clifford Tolchard was the maternal uncle of Hilary Reynolds, who is married to Hans van den Bos.

19 September 2020 — Powys Newsletter 1–6 (1970–1983)

Powys Newsletter 2, 1971Now scanned and available on this website

Published by Colgate University Press under the editorship of R.L. Blackmore these elegantly designed newsletters preceded Powys Notes which first appeared in 1985 after the Powys Society of North America was inaugurated, initially also under the editorship of Blackmore. They contain original unpublished Powys  material as well as critical essays and news and reviews.

13 September 2020 — Link: Memories of the Weymouth Sands weekend, 1994

Lawrence Freisesleben, a member of the Powys Society in the 1990s, has posted a Digression on The Isle of Portland on the International Times website. Lawrence writes:

One of our best memories was the Weymouth Sands weekend (Newsletter No 23, November 1994). This, and a section about JCP’s Weymouth Sands (including a quote from Chris Gostick’s report on the walk) feature in my latest Digression in the International Times http://internationaltimes.it/the-isle-of-portland-digression/ so I thought a link to the piece might be of interest to members of the society? (The piece also features Hardy's The Well-Beloved and several films, including Joseph Losey's The Damned of 1961)

A transcription of Chris Gostick’s report on the 1994 Weymouth walk from Newsletter No 23 has been added to the articles section of the Powys Society website.

2 September 2020 — John Cowper Powys: 1906 University Extension Lectures

Newly transcribed and formatted for the Powys Society website from a photocopy of the ‘Syllabus’ in the Kate Kavanagh collection.

This ‘Syllabus of a Course of Six Lectures on Some Poets of the Romantic Revival and After’ presents JCP’s outline notes for a lecture series covering Cowper, Burns, Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson, Browning, and Matthew Arnold. It fleshes out this important period in JCP’s life as a University Extension Lecturer with its format of six fortnightly lectures.

1 September 2020 — Philobiblon, Number 8 / Winter 1966

Philobiblon coverWe have added to the website a scan of the special issue of Philobiblon that was dedicated to John Cowper Powys. Philobiblon is The Journal of the Friends of the Colgate University Library; the library has a major collection of Powys material.

This special 1966 issue includes JCP’s essay An Englishman Up-State

See Philobiblon

1 September 2020 — Alliance of Literary Societies eNewsletter

The Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of the Alliance of Literary Societies eNewsletter download here

8 August 2020 — Saving the Good Wine Until Last, Philip Jenkins

A good appreciation of Mr Weston’s Good Wine by Philip Jenkins has been posted at www.patheos.com. This has been added to our links page

3 August 2020 — John Gray on T.F. Powys and circle at Chaldon Herring

The village that imagined a godless world. In the Dorset parish of Chaldon Herring, 20th century intellectuals imagined a philosophy beyond Christianity, by John Gray. Link added. See Links

1 August 2020 — Powys Notes 1985–2002

Scanning of back issues of this invaluable journal of the Powys Society of North America is now complete. Nicholas Birns (editor 1998–2002) kindly provided an incomplete run of back issues. Gaps (including issues we didn’t know existed) were then filled from the excellent Powys archive of Kate Kavanagh. The last missing issue was kindly provided by Senate House Library, University of London. See Powys Notes

31 July 2020 — An Interview with Jeremy Hooker

Jeremy Hooker

Jeremy Hooker, who was scheduled to speak at our 2020 annual conference (and hopefully will be speaking in 2021 instead) has recently published his Selected Poems 1965–2018 alongside a new book of critical writing, Art of Seeing: Essays on Poetry, Landscape Painting, and Photography
(Available from Shearsman press).

An extensive interview by Colin Edwards, in which Jeremy talks about these projects, is available at Wales Arts Review

28 July 2020 — The Powys Journal on JSTOR Available to Members

The Powys JournalAll Powys Society Members can now access all issues from 1991 onwards of The Powys Journal on JSTOR through a password protected portal on our website. See instructions on The Powys Journal page.

To take advantage of this, please email Paul Cheshire powysjournal@icloud.com to request a username and password.

15 July 2020 — Glen Cavaliero’s Powys Collection

Dr Paul Hartle, Emeritus Fellow of English at St. Catharine’s College in Cambridge, Glen’s friend, colleague and literary executor who delivered the eulogy at his funeral (see Newsletter No.99, March 2020, pp.12-14), has very generously donated to the Powys Society Glen’s personal collection of Powys books as well as his papers, letters and other documents relating to JCP and other members of the Powys family. See full list

3 July 2020 — Alliance of Literary Societies eNewsletter

The Alliance of Literary Societies’ ALSo Journal 2020 is out! download here

29 June 2020 — Powys Society of North America, Inaugural Meeting, June 1985

C-90 Cassette Tapes

We have recently received cassette tapes of presentations at this 1985 inaugural meeting at Colgate University, NY. A list of the contents is provided in our Past Events section as a tribute to the PSNA, our erstwhile sister organisation.

Conference Report

There is also a full conference report in Powys Notes 1.2 Fall 1985

8 June 2020 — Stephen Powys Marks (1932–2020)

Stephen Powys Marks, 2019
Stephen Powys Marks in 2019 (photo: Dawn Collins)

Farewell to Stephen, whose range of talents and personal qualities contributed so much to the Powys Society. As a Powys family member he kept alive our link with the Powyses, and he was an unforgettable and enthusiastic presence at our conferences.

JCP’s Great-nephew

John Cowper Powys wrote to Louis Wilkinson on 7th August 1946 about meeting his niece Isobel (daughter of A R Powys), her husband Herbert Marks, their daughter Tamar and their son Stephen (Powys Marks):

“I like Stephen Marks very much though I've only seen him once since he’s grown into a boy at school. But I can see I'd get on top notch with him without any shyness or embarrassment, and it isn’t always so with young boys.”

Pillar of the Powys Society

Stephen had an absolute commitment to preserving Powys family heritage, collecting family artefacts and documents — letters and diaries and family photos, organising exhibitions of Gertrude's paintings, and sale or auction of rare and special signed editions of Powys books. He leaves a huge collection of materials: books, photos, letters etc.

The Society is completely indebted to Stephen for the great work he did between 1990 and 2010 as Publications Manager, producing and designing so many editions of the Newsletter and Powys Journal on his own to an extraordinarily high standard. He built a foundation for future work. His work also extended to producing indexes to the Newsletter, the Powys Review, and The Powys Journal; the facsimile document on our archive page listing events between 1967 and 1991 is a testament to his meticulous collection and preservation of Society records. He will also be remembered for his many articles about his grandfather the architect A.R. Powys and other aspects of the family which appeared in the Powys Journal and Newsletter. Stephen also served for many years on the Powys Society committee and was also Treasurer of the Society in the 1990s — a post he filled until he retired from this role in 2002.

(Thanks to Chris Thomas for contributing most of the above material)

The personal tributes below speak for themselves:

From Michael Kowalewski

I am desolate to hear about Stephen’s passing. He was an absolute treasure chest of the family history, always ready with a letter or document or personal reminiscence. He gave a human face to a literary clan and anchored it in the real world. He was wise and very human and ever-enthusiastic. We shall miss him terribly.
With deepest condolences, Michael Kowalewski.

From Marcella Henderson-Peal

Stephen was our own personal Powys, he was as near as we could get to that ancient original mould that had carved his bones,hewn his highly intelligent mind and he was also the keeper of the Powys family flame with his wonderful collection of letters and memorabilia he was so generous with. I always looked forward to any article of his which were always treasure troves. I looked forward to seeing him at conferences, the special way he stooped, the way he carried his books with reverence, the unique way his voice would sound in the room when he wished to comment on what the speaker had just said, usually to correct some detail. He was our Powysian Encyclopaedia, a human library and great and interesting company, a company we would each seek at one point during the conferences and he would make time for each of us.
Ailinon! Marcella Henderson-Peal.

Our July Newsletter will contain short tributes, and our full tribute will follow in the November issue. We send our condolences to his family, particularly his children Edward and Dorothy, and his sister Antonia Young and half-sister Anna Marks. A private family cremation will be held on 24 June under current covid-19 restrictions. Edward adds: We will plan a proper Memorial at a later date, this year or next, to which you, and ALL who knew and appreciated Stephen, will be most warmly invited.

5 March 2020 — John Batten

John Batten outside The Sailor's Return 2015
John with plaque on the exterior wall of The Sailor’s Return, Chaldon Herring, Dorset
We have just learnt that John Batten died at the end of February.  John, who was born on 23 March 1930, was Secretary of the Powys Society from 1992 to 1997 and editor of the Newsletter from November 1997 to  July 2001. John and his wife Eve were  much-valued presences, especially at meetings in Powys territory. They lived in Montacute.  As the plaque on the right indicates, John was the founder of the Llewelyn Powys Birthday walk, an annual tradition that has remained unbroken for the last 25 years. (see 2019 events)

Paul Roberts (former Powys Society Chairman) says: ‘So sad to hear the news of the death of John Batten. He was a fine man, full of enthusiasm, energy and good humour and he worked tremendously hard for the Society.’ 

John's funeral will be held in St Catherine's Church, Middle St, Montacute TA15 6UZ at 12.00 noon on Tuesday 17 March. If you plan to attend please email John's daughter Helen Zisul hzisul@club-internet.fr to enable her to get a sense of numbers attending.

Tributes and a memoir will appear in our July Newsletter.

1 March 2020 — Alliance of Literary Societies eNewsletter

The Spring/Summer 2020 issue of the Alliance of Literary Societies’ eNewsletter download here

17 February 2020 — 2020 Conference Programme

Booking is now open for ‘Myth, Place, and Poetic Imagination’ — go to Conference Page

12 February 2020 — Tribute to George Steiner 1929–2020

George SteinerAs a tribute to George Steiner, who was a persistent champion of Powys, we have added to our website the transcription of his 1972 lecture ‘The Difficulties of Reading John Cowper Powys’. It is worth revisiting Steiner's reflections on why a writer of JCP’s stature is not recognised more widely: nearly 50 years after Steiner gave this talk, although his complaint about the lack of biographies and criticism has been to some extent remedied, many of the points he makes still apply. We also have a Bibliography of Steiner's writings on Powys compiled by Chris Thomas

Steiner's lecture was recorded at the 1972 John Cowper Powys Centenary Conference, and was transcribed by Timothy Hyman for The Powys Review,1 (Spring 1977). It is reprinted here by permssion of Belinda Humfrey, the Powys Review editor.

1 February 2020 — Powys Society Conferences 2002–2019

The Past Events page has been restructured as a year by year index to past conferences. Every conference between 2002 and 2019 now has its own page on the current website. Other past society events (meetings etc.) go back to 2014; earlier years will be added in due course.

18 January 2020 — additions to archives

Documents between 1967 and 1984: conference programmes, ad hoc newsletters, announcements, pleas for members to pay their subscriptions. A random mix of information about the activities of the Society and ephemeral memorabilia: itemised price lists... hand-drawn map of the route to Stephen Powys Mark’s house (where Gertrude Powys’s paintings were being exhibited in 1986).

29 November 2019 — Max Peltier

We are sorry to hear that Max, husband of Jacqueline Peltier, died on 29 November. He was instrumental in the creation of the powys-lannion website, helped produce la lettre powysienne and had a long association with the Powys Society. We send condolences to his son Jean-Francois who came to our 2019 Conference at Llangollen to take part in the tributes to Jacqueline. 

27 November 2019 — Conference DVDs

View our new DVD page: now available in DVD format: our 2002 Conference In View of Glastonbury with contributions from Iain Sinclair, Colin Wilson, Margaret Drabble, P.J. Kavanagh, Timothy Hyman and Richard Perceval Graves. Our thanks to Raymond Cox.

November 2019 — New publications of Powysian interest

View our publications news page: a new edition of The Owl, The Duck, Miss Rowe! Miss Rowe!, and a new translation of The Book of Taliesin.

28 October 2019 — RIP Glen Cavaliero 1927–2019

glen cavaliero, the powys societyOur President, Glen Cavaliero, has died aged 92. His advocacy for the work of John Cowper Powys, and his many years as President of the Powys Society will always be remembered with gratitude and affection.

We can be thankful that Glen was able to attend our 50th anniversary celebration in Cambridge this year, where Charles Lock read Tony Head's tribute to Glen (see NL97 p.15-16). Glen then read to us from his diary an account of his visit to John Cowper Powys in 1958. In retrospect that celebration in Glen's home city was a great opportunity to express our fondness and admiration for a vital link in the chain between the Powyses and the present members of the Society.

See our tribute page for Glen

25 October 2019 — Archives 1967–1984

Seven archive documents covering the period from the 1967 meetings that led to the formation of the officially constituted Powys Society in 1969 are now available in a new archive section – see navigation bar drop-down menu under ‘The Society’.

14 October 2019 — Liam Hanley

We were sorry to hear of the recent death of Liam Hanley, who was JCP’s godson. The funeral is to be at St Dominic's Priory. London NW5 at 12.00 noon on Tuesday 15 October. Family flowers only. It is also planned to hold a celebration of his life sometime next year - also probably in London. Liam Hanley was the son of James Hanley whose correspondence with JCP was published last year, edited by Chris Gostick, who will be writing a fuller tribute for the Newsletter. Chris adds here:

Liam was always a great favourite with JCP and Phyllis when the two families lived close to each other in Corwen during the mid-1930s when he was still a young baby. He was always affectionately known as "Curley-Tops" by John Cowper because of his unruly shock of wiry dark hair! Liam always stayed in touch with them, visiting them at 1 Waterloo after they moved to Blaenau Ffestiniog on his regular trips back to Wales from London. One of the last letters in Powys and Lord Jim is from Liam to John and Phyllis about a planned visit to see them in May 1960. He always spoke with great affection about them both.

2 September 2019 — Alliance of Literary Societies eNewsletter

The Autumn 2019 issue of the Alliance of Literary Societies’ eNewsletter download here

31 August 2019 — Powys Books for sale

Black Pug Books The Old Gallery Wimborne Minster, Dorset. 01202 889383 / 07720 712707

Victoria Sturgess of Black Pug Books, a second-hand bookshop in Wimborne Minster, has recently acquired a large collection of all three Powys brothers' books, and books about them. Several are quite obscure, and there are also many first editions. Before putting them on general sale, Victoria offers Powys Society members first rummage among them. VIEW LIST OF TITLES

20 August 2019 — David Jones remembers JCP

We have created a new page for audio / audiovisual material which currently includes the only known film clip of John Cowper Powys, preparing for a debate with Bertrand Russell in 1929, and — uploaded today — an audio recording (32:57 mins) of David Jones speaking at the 2017 Powys Society Conference about his childhood memories of living next to John Cowper Powys and Phyllis Playter at Cae Coed near Corwen.

24 July 2019 — Jacqueline Peltier

Jacqueline PeltierWe were sad to learn that Jacqueline died on 24 July.
A tribute to Jacqueline by Pierrick Hamelin and Goulven Le Brech has been posted on their blog Entre les vagues.

The picture shown here was taken at Shakespeare & Co bookshop in Paris at the 2014 launch of Proteus and the Magician, the correspondence between JCP and Henry Miller, which Jacqueline had edited. Jacqueline was a committed Powysienne: she edited la lettre powysienne (2001-2017) and created the website www.powys-lannion.net. A vital part of the Powys community, and lively presence at our conferences, Jacqueline will be sadly missed.

5 July 2019 — TLS reviews new edition of Roy Fisher’s A Furnace (1986)

To the memory of John Cowper Powys 1872–1963.

From Fisher’s preface:
“The poem is also an homage, from a temperament very different from his, to the profound, heterodox and consistent vision of John Cowper Powys, to whom I owe thanks for some words of exhortation he gave me in my youth and in his old age. More importantly, I am indebted to his writings for such understanding as I have of the idea that the making of all kinds of identities is a primary impulse which the cosmos itself has; and that those identities and that impulse can be acknowledged only by some form or other of poetic imagination.”

10 June 2019 — Cecil Woolf

Cecil Woolf with Jean Moorcroft Wilson RIP Cecil Woolf, publisher of many volumes of John Cowper Powys’s letters and of the Powys Heritage Monographs.

We are grateful for his enthusiastic championing of the Powys brothers. Our condolences to Cecil Woolf’s family and friends; in particular Jean Moorcroft Wilson (pictured with him, left), whose obituary of her late husband is included in an appreciation of his life by Paula Maggio, the Virginia Woolf blogger. See our Newsletter 97 (July 2019) for a full tribute.

27 May 2019

Wolf Solent, A Glastonbury Romance, Weymouth Sands and Maiden Castle are all available as Kindle eBooks. See publications.

4 May 2019

Powys Society Newsletters from No 88 (July 2016) onwards are uploaded as PDFs and available for reading

W.J. Keith’s four much loved Reader's Companions to JCP‘s major works are also available from Articles for download

13 Mar 2019 — James Purdy

JCP is mentioned in this Guardian article (11 Mar 2019) about his friend James Purdy, who died 13 March 2009. Charles Lock, editor of The Powys Journal, keeper of Purdy's ashes, (and champion of his literary reputation), is taking Purdy's ashes to a tenth anniversary commemorative event, at which they will be interred beside the grave of Edith Sitwell.

Mar 2019 — Alliance of Literary Societies eNewsletter

The Spring 2019 issue of the Alliance of Literary Societies’ eNewsletter download here

30 Oct 2018 — Powys Journal

The contents of all twenty-eight volumes of THE POWYS JOURNAL are now available to view in digital format at JSTOR

30 June 2018 — Jeff Kwintner

It is with great sadness that we report the death of JEFF KWINTNER founder of the Village Press which reissued so many works by John Cowper Powys in the 1970s. A truly remarkable individual to whom all Powysians owe a debt of gratitude, directly or indirectly, a short notice will feature in the July Newsletter and fuller tributes and an obituary of Jeff will appear in the November Newsletter. In the meantime you may wish to read JEFF KWINTNER AND THE VILLAGE BOOKSHOP by Paul Roberts.

7 Jun 2018 — Happy Birthday Glen Cavaliero

glen cavaliero, the powys society Warmest congratulations to the Society’s President, GLEN CAVALIERO,
who celebrates his 91st birthday.

16 Aug 2014 — Review of A Glastonbury Romance in The Telegraph

“John Cowper Powys is a writer who changes how you see the world:
”A Glastonbury Romance is deeply flawed, yet utterly remarkable”
Michael Henderson — read full article

11 May 2014 — Book launch: Proteus in Paris

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 Bûcherie, Paris
on Sunday 11 May at 5pm.

Launch of Proteus at Shakespeare Bookshop, Paris
Outside Shakespeare & Co bookshop

Front row: Chris Thomas, Fawzia Assaad, Liliane Ruf, Dana Wentworth, Jacqueline Peltier and Goulven Le Brech
Second row: Marcella Henderson-Peal and Charles Lock.