The Powys Society are actively seeking an Honorary Treasurer
Full support and advice as regards record keeping and other requirements is readily available from existing members of the committee. The main requirement is to feel reasonably at home with figures, and to handle bank /PayPal transactions, which are now mostly managed online.
If you are interested and would like to discuss whether this role would suit you, please email Paul Cheshire (Acting Treasurer) at firstname.lastname@example.org
17-19 May 2024 — Alliance of Literary Societies: Gathering and AGM
The next ALS Annual Gathering and AGM weekend (17–19 May 2024) will be hosted by the Arthur Ransome Society in Bowness-on-Windermere. See link for further details
The latest issues of ALS publications are available from the links below:
John Burnside -- “The book that made me want to be a writer:”
John Cowper Powys's A Glastonbury Romance, which I read in my early 20s. What beguiled me was its scope, the way it drew pagan magic from the land in a mix of history, myth and a contemporary narrative that nobody else, to my mind, had even attempted. Of course I knew, even then, it was inimitable, but imitation was never the point: what mattered was to find a way to be equally inimitable, or nearly so. Clearly, this is still a work in progress for me.
The greater part of the Powys collection of books and miscellaneous material currently housed at Mappowder, Dorset, is to be auctioned on 14 December 2023, by Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Mallard House, Broadway Lane, South Cerney, Cirencester, Glo. GL7 5UG, tel 01285 86900. email: email@example.com
This collection has a profoundly personal relevance to the Powys story and was accumulated over many years by Lucy Amelia Penny (née Powys), youngest sister and god-daughter of John Cowper Powys, who lived in Mappowder from 1950 to her death in 1986. The present owner Louise de Bruin inherited it via Gerard Casey, Lucy’s son-in-law.
The collection includes memorabilia from the Powys parents, grandparents and forebears, from the extended family and from the Powys ‘circle’. It consists of several hundred family-owned books (for the most part in a much-used condition but with significant inscriptions and insertions), including many inscribed first editions of Powys works. There are also examples of graphic work by members of the family, paintings by Gertrude Mary Powys, a small number of manuscripts and typescripts and much highly significant ephemera. There are also over 700 family photographs (in folders), and over 2000 family letters, including the letters of Mary Casey to and from her mother, Lucy Penny, in the Casey Collection. (Most of the letters are in their original envelopes.) The auction will take place at South Cerney and there will be viewing days beforehand. A printed catalogue will be published and the collection itemised online, through which bids can be made. Any interest should be directed to Dominic Winter (as above) (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
23 June 2023 — RIP Jerry Bird
We are very sad to hear of the death of Jerry Bird, a true friend to the Powys Society.
Jerry has been associated with the Powys Society for many years, and has been designer and typesetter for the Powys Journal and the Powys Society Newsletter. Jerry was also editor of the folklore magazine Merry Meet, and (as shown in the photograph — left) a folk musician, playing with the band State of Undress. He was MC of folk nights in two pubs in the Dorchester area: The Blue Raddle and The Convivial Rabbit. Jerry was also an ardent conservationist campaigner on behalf of the historic Dorset landscape in which he lived.
The Convivial Rabbit, 1 Trinity House, Trinity Street, Dorchester are hosting a tribute evening for Jerry at 7:30 on Sunday 25 June. Link to details
26 April 2023 — Powys books from the collection of George Sims
James Fergusson’s book catalogue linked below includes a large number of items on the Powys brothers from the library of the distinguished bookseller, and Powys enthusiast, GEORGE SIMS (1923–1999). A glance through this shows that these books have MS notes and other pamphlets inserted of remarkable interest to collector and Powys scholar.
Chris Thomas writes:
George Sims played an important role in the 1950s purchasing many of JCP’s early manuscripts and notebooks which later ended up at the National Library of Wales, Harry Ransom Centre Texas, and Syracuse. The catalogues of books and manuscripts Sims offered for sale are a joy to read — if you can find them — the British Library has an enviable collection of these catalogues with items at amazing prices one can only dream about now!
Interesting to note that included in James Fergusson’s catalogue of the Sims library are several personal Powys items and intriguing ephemera - eg. JCP declares he dislikes the idea of television and says he will die without having seen television!
We were sad to learn of Robin's passing on 22 April 2023.
Robin was introduced to the Powys Society by her niece Marcella Henderson-Peal, who accompanied her to a Powys Society conference in 2007 which she enjoyed so much she came to every subsequent conference. Robin served as Honorary Treasurer between 2016 and 2021.
The photo on the left captures her lively, humorous presence. Robin retained an enviably youthful vitality into her 80s. We were happy to see her reading Katie Powys’s poetry with great expression at the 2022 conference. And she can be seen toasting JCP’s 150th birthday in a photo of the celebration at Shirley.
27 December 2022 — Literary Agent to the Estate of John Cowper Powys
Kevin Taylor has taken over from Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson as Literary Agent to the Estate of John Cowper Powys. Christopher’s appointment as Agent was announced in NL 37 (July 1999). He took over from Gerald Pollinger, whose family had represented JCP (originally Gerald’s father Laurence) since the 1930s. Christopher was responsible, working closely with the Literary Advisor to the Estate Morine Krissdóttir, for the successful Faber Finds and Overlook Duckworth publishing initiatives of the early-2000s. Kevin is Editor of The Powys Journal and a member of the Powys Society Committee, and has nearly forty years’ experience as a professional publisher. His appointment has the blessing of the Estate/copyright holders Amanda and William Powys. He plans to work closely with the Society in seeking out new publishing opportunities for the works of this great writer.
8 December 2022 — Glen Cavaliero Fellowship
We have just learned of the following announcement:
St Catharine’s College is delighted to announce that it has established a named Fellowship in honour of The Revd Dr Glen Tilburn Cavaliero FRSL (1965). Dr Cavaliero (1927–2019) was a highly-respected poet, scholar, and critic. He was member of the College for 54 years, first as an Affiliated student, then as a Research Fellow, and finally as a Fellow Commoner. Over the course of his career in Cambridge, he also played an important part in the University as an affiliated lecturer in the Faculty of English and lecturer for the Board of Extra-Mural Studies. Fittingly, the Glen Cavaliero Fellowship may be held by an Official or Professorial Fellow in English.
17 November 2022 — John Cowper Powys: A Man Between Worlds
A talk by Kevan Manwaring at 7pm: Dorset Museum.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Dorset-based novelist John Cowper Powys, Dr Kevan Manwaring (who can be heard in the BBC R3 discussion below) re-examines his influences, oeuvre, and legacy with a special focus on his ‘Wessex Quartet’ of novels (Maiden Castle; Weymouth Sands; A Glastonbury Romance; Wolf Solent). Written with the ‘inkblood of home’ while he was a lecturer in America, we’ll consider the importance of place and the Welsh concept of ‘hiraeth’ in his writing.
21 October 2022 — John Cowper Powys: A Magician Between Worlds
A talk by Kevan Manwaring at the Atlantis Bookshop, 49a Museum St. Bloomsbury. October 21st, 7-9 pm. £10.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the novelist John Cowper Powys, Dr Kevan Manwaring re-examines his influences, oeuvre, and legacy with a special focus on his ‘Wessex Quartet’ of novels (Maiden Castle; Weymouth Sands; A Glastonbury Romance; Wolf Solent). Written with the ‘inkblood of home’ while he was a lecturer in America, we’ll consider the importance of place and the Welsh concept of ‘hiraeth’ in his writing, and what he called ‘the magical view of life.’.
On Thursday 29 September 2022 at 22.00 BBC Radio Three will broadcast an episode of Free Thinking devoted to John Cowper Powys to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. Matthew Sweet will discuss the life and writing of JCP with Margaret Drabble, John Gray, Iain Sinclair and Kevan Manwaring. For more information please go to: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001c7ny
Porius explores the idea that idea that evil originates from ‘some obscure struggle between men and women’ and Powys suggests that a bias toward ‘masculine consciousness’ leads to war, sadism, and violence. The patriarchal aspects of Christianity are condemned by Powys, and he prophesises its replacement with the worship of the Mother Goddess. Mythology is a major element and the characters include King Arthur’s magician Myrddin (Merlin), his lover Nineue, Tennyson’s Vivien, and survivors of a race of giants. Powys’s ideas about ‘feminine consciousness’,were particularly influenced by C. G. Jung, various women in his life, and the novelist Dorothy Richardson, who represents for him an ideal of this consciousness.
30 August 2022 — The Powys Brothers: readings by Freddie Jones, Christopher Kent and Oliver Marlow Wilkinson
Recordings now available here online
The Powys Society is grateful to Christopher Kent and the representatives of Freddie Jones and Oliver Marlow Wilkinson who have given permission to allow this 1999 audio-cassette release to be made available online. These excellent readings by Freddie Jones (as TFP), Christopher Kent (as LP), and Oliver Marlow Wilkinson (as JCP) are now available in MP3 format for playing online.
17 June 2022 - 7pm Patrick Quigley at Corwen Museum
Patrick Quigley is a stimulating lecturer: he has spoken at several Powys Society events and is the author of an excellent novel Borderland and several biographies, most recently The Polish Irishman: The Life and Times of Count Casimir Markievicz.
Pat led a group of Powysians up the hill above JCP’s home at Cae Coed, Corwen, after the 2019 conference. The photo shown here (known fondly as The Sermon on the Mount) shows Pat reciting to us, his devoted disciples, passages from the notes he had compiled from JCP’s diaries and other writings. He made a delightful guide.
29 March 2022 — Susan Rands (1929–2022)
We were sorry to hear of the death of Susan Rands, who was for many years a very active member of the Society. Susan frequently contributed articles to the Newsletter, Powys Review and Powys Journal, and in the 1980s she served on the committee as Treasurer.
It has become apparent by the responses to this news, how active and in touch Susan remained with many individual members of the Society, as well as continuing to research and publish articles, up to the age of 92.
Full tributes and a list of all her writings will follow here and in the Newsletter. For now we send condolences to her family and cherish her memory.
18 March 2022 — AUCTION of COLLECTIBLE POWYS BOOKS
The Lots are shown below — bids can be made online
7 March 2022 — Llewelyn Powys Birthday Walk 13 August 2022
Neil Atkin has confirmed that plans are afoot to hold the annual Llewelyn Powys Birthday Walk from The Sailor’s Return, Chaldon Herring, on Saturday 13 August. For further information please contact Neil at his new email address.
19 December 2021 — Lecture. Marian Powys: a Life in Lace
A recording of this lecture by the antique lace historian Elizabeth Kurella, which was live-streamed to members of the International Organization of Lace Inc., is now available online. You will be asked to register with name, email address, and country, which will only be used for the IOLI’s internal analysis of recording views and will not be shared with anyone else or used for any other purpose.
The fact that Marian Powys’s lace is being celebrated makes it newsworthy and we extend our thanks to Elizabeth Kurella and the IOLI for keeping Marian’s name alive.
Marian Powys: a Life in Lace
Travel on the amazing lifelong adventures of Marian Powys as lace carries her from her father’s church garden in Victorian England to the roaring twenties in Manhattan, where customers at her lace shop included the assassin of Rasputin. Her Honiton lace designs are in New York City museums. Her innovative ideas in the business of antique lace included a ground-breaking installation at a midtown art gallery and a dozen plus page article in a 1930s Fortune magazine. As a teacher of lacemaking, lace design, and the history of antique lace she inspired generations. Time-travel with us through this remarkable lace adventure.
27 November 2021 — L’Atelier du Roman issue celebrating John Cowper Powys
Issue 107 December 2021 John Cowper Powys “Au commencement fut la sensation” (“In the beginning was the sensation”).
L’Atelier du Roman 107 includes twelve essays on JCP, by Denis Grozdanovitch, Christine Jordis, Nunzio Casalaspro, Judith Coppel, Goulven Le Brech, Amélie Derome, Marco Martella, Thierry Gillybouf, Eryck de Rubercy, Pierrick Hamelin, Marcella Henderson-Peal, and Lakis Proguidis.
(Our particular congratulations to Marcella Henderson-Peal, the Representative of the Powys Society in France).
Previous French periodicals with issues dedicated to John Cowper Powys include
Granit, 1973, edited by Michel Gresset, Diane de Margerie and Francois Xavier Jaujard. See Internet Archive
Plein Chant, Nos.42/43 (1988), edited by Benjamin Stassen. See Bibio. (See also reviews in Powys Society Newsletter, No.6, March 1989 and Powys Notes, 5.2, Fall 1989, pp. 26-28).
11 October 2021 — Farewell, Theodora Gay Scutt 4 August 1932 – 11 October 2021
We were sad to learn of the death on 11 October of Theodora Scutt, adopted daughter of Theodore and Violet Powys. Theodora was the daughter of Count Potocki and was adopted by the Powyses on 20 January 1933. Her adoptive parents came to call her Susan. Her own account of her childhood is available in her portrait of Violet, her step-mother, in Newsletter 28, July 1996.
Theodora also wrote a memoir Cuckoo in the Powys Nest (Brynmill Press, 2000) about her childhood years. She married Bernard Scutt in 1984, and some time after his death she spent her old age in a care home in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, Ireland.
A measure of Theodora’s character can be gauged from a May 2020 telephone conversation she had with Patrick Quigley, a member of our Society, who lives in Ireland and used to visit her. He was concerned about how she was faring under the covid-19 pandemic:
I phoned Theodora Scutt recently to check if she is still alive as nursing homes have been badly hit here. She’s hale and hearty, almost 88, benefiting from all that Dorset air as a child. She lives in her own world - very Powysian. I explained to her all about the deadly virus and how lucky she is to be in a safe place. “Golly,” she said, “I wish I could catch some of that. I'd rather be dead than in here.”
That spirit is very evident in her memoirs. More information will follow. For now The Powys Society salutes Theodora as a last link with the household of T.F. Powys, and sends condolences to her surviving relatives.
There will be a cremation on Friday 15 October at 4.00pm at Lakelands Crematorium, Dublin Road, Cavan.
For full details and opportunity to leave a farewell message, see link to announcement
8 October 2021 — The Powys Society Conference 12-14 August 2022
4 October 2021 — Powys Collection at Exeter University, Special Collections
The cataloguing of the Powys Collection is now complete, and integrated in minute detail into Exeter's online database.
On behalf of the Society, Chris Thomas (Hon. Sec), Kevin Taylor (editor, Powys Journal), and Paul Cheshire (Chair) visited the archive and were hosted by Christine Faunch, Head of Heritage Collections, and Caroline Walter, Project Archivist, who had done the extensive job of cataloguing. They demonstrated the online catalogue and showed us the shelved Collection. We were delighted by Christine’s and Caroline’s level of engagement ond enthusiasm and thank them profusely for their work. Our Collection is in good hands!
Hopefully, these can also serve as an inspiration. If you are an admirer of the Powyses and want to help spread the word, putting online reviews on platforms such as Goodreads.com or Amazon.com /Amazon.co.uk will help to foster awareness among potential readers.
10 September 2021 — Stephen Powys Marks (1932–2020)
A New Obituary
An obituary of Stephen has recently been published in the London Topographical Record No. XXXII, whose editor has kindly given permission for us to make this new angle on Stephen’s many talents available here. Stephen was Vice President of the London Topographical Society.
10 July 2021 — Congratulations to Jeremy Hooker, FRSL
Jeremy Hooker, who was scheduled to speak at our covid-doomed 2020 annual conference (and hopefully will be speaking in 2022 instead) has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Jeremy’s most recent publications are Selected Poems 1965–2018 and a book of critical writing, Art of Seeing: Essays on Poetry, Landscape Painting, and Photography. He has published numerous collections of poetry as well as books of literary criticism on writers such as JCP, Hardy, Edward Thomas and Richard Jefferies. He has written a monograph on JCP (1973) and included chapters about JCP in his books Writers in a Landscape (1996) and The Poetry of Place (1982). Jeremy has also contributed articles and reviews to the Powys Review and the Powys Journal. Other publications include a collection of poems, Scattered Light (2015) which was reviewed in the Powys Journal, Vol. XXVI, 2016; his book of essays Ditch Vision (2017) was reviewed in the Powys Journal, Vol. XXVIII, 2018; Under the Quarry Woods (2018) was reviewed in Powys Society Newsletter, July 2018 and the Powys Journal in 2018. He delivered a talk on The Writings of Gerard and Mary Casey at our conference in Llangollen in 2011
26 May 2021: Dorset History Centre Zoom event
Valentine Ackland: A Transgressive Life
by Frances Bingham
Frances Bingham’s new book is the definitive biography of this remarkable gender-rebel, poet and Dorset resident, who was the partner of Sylvia Townsend Warner. Valentine was a dedicated writer, deeply involved with Communism during the 1930s, a volunteer in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, and an environmentalist and peace campaigner. Recently released MI5 files show that she was blacklisted for confidential work during the Second World War, and remained under long-term surveillance, as much for her ‘abnormality’ as for her politics.
The biography includes references to T.F. Powys, Katie Powys, Llewelyn Powys, and Francis Powys who were intimately connected with Ackland, Warner and their circle.
‘Frances Bingham [is] Ackland’s critical guardian angel.’ Ali Smith, TLS
Frances Bingham will be appearing in a FREE ZOOM EVENT
Wed, 26 May 2021 16:00 – 17:00 BST
Hosted by the Dorset History Centre as one of three Dorset authors talking about their latest books.
6 May 2021: Dorset Museum (Dorchester) re-opening 28 May 2021
The museum (formerly known as the Dorset County Museum) is reopening to the public on 28 May. The press release announces that the 16m pound extension will house new galleries to allow the museum to display more of its four million artefacts, including fossils, sculptures by Dame Elisabeth Frink, novelist Thomas Hardy’s pens and Bronze Age axes. We hope the Powyses and their circle will also remain well presented.
The museum’s website currently has no content but will kick in soon. For now the most informative link is to its Facebook page, from which the illustration shown left is taken, along with a post about Mary Channing whose public 1706 execution was attended by 10,000 people. Mary Channing and her execution was the subject of Dud Noman’s historical research in JCP’s Maiden Castle.
Ten thousand of them gathered there; fixed, silent, and hard-browed,
To see her strangled and burnt to dust, as was the verdict then
On women truly judged, or false, of doing to death their men.
The Powys Review edited by Belinda Humfrey, now appears in full, online. Number One appeared in Spring 1977, and it ended with a double issue Nos. 31 & 32, in 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. 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.
The Powys Review home page features
Complete list of contents
Index to Nos 1-26 (by Stephen Powys Marks)
Openable list of contents by each number
The searchable PDFs of each number include full internal content navigation (this should appear in a navigation panel on the left).
30 March 2021 — The Quiet Man of Dorset: T.F. Powys
This pamphlet about Theodore written by his son, Francis Powys, has been added to our online articles.
30 March 2021 — Online Auction: Collection of Stephen Powys Marks
General Fine Art and Antiques Auction includes Items from the estate of the late Stephen Powys Marks: including publications from The Golden Cockerel Press, The Kelmscott Press, The Nonesuch Press, etc.; a Portrait of Mrs Bridget Cromwell Ireton, daughter of Oliver Cromwell, attr. to Sir Peter Lely; other Paintings, Prints, & Works-of-Art, Silver, Jewellery, Ceramics, Clocks, Antique & later Furniture & Furnishings, etc.
4 February 2021 — UPDATED: National Library of Wales: Funding Crisis
‘National Library of Wales to receive £2.25m rescue package after protests’
The NLW is of the utmost importance to Wales, and is of direct concern to the Powys Society because it is a custodian of invaluable John Cowper Powys material (see webliography and see Chris Thomas’s account of a visit to NLW.)
22 January 2021 — Cancellation of 2021 Conference due to Covid
Our annual conference scheduled for 13–15 August 2021 August 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.
We will organise meetings by Zoom video link, as we did in 2020. These are likely to consist of a discussion event on Saturday 14 August and the AGM on Sunday 15 August. An announcement will be posted here as soon as plans are finalised.
20 January 2021 — Online Article Links Added:
‘Staging the Obscene in A Glastonbury Romance (1932) by John Cowper Powys’
by Florence Marie, Miranda: Revue Pluridisciplinaire du Monde Anglophone, 21: 2020.
This article — available on open access at the Miranda journal website — draws a fine distinction between obscenity and bawdiness (in the wake of the Ulysses controversy) and uses Julia Kristeva’s theory of the abject to illuminate JCP’s juxtaposition of the obscene and the sacred. We are glad to see JCP featuring so strongly in France. The author has previously published an article (under her former name, Florence Marie-Laverrou) ‘Writing the Sea in Weymouth’ in the Powys Journal Vol XVI, 2006, and presented a paper at our 2007 conference.
Our links page adds two further Florence Marie essays: ‘A Glastonbury Romance (1932) by John Cowper Powys as an egalitarian narrative?’ and ‘Hardyan Ruins in John Cowper Powys’s A Glastonbury Romance (1932) and Maiden Castle (1936)’.
6 December 2020 — The Powys Society Newsletter: Now Online
Back numbers are all now available on the website after scanning. The image on the right is the front page of Number 1, December 1987.
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
23 November 2020 — Glen Cavaliero’s obituary in The St Catharine's Magazine
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 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.
3 November 2020 — The Powys Society Newsletter Digitisation Project
Back 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.
2 October 2020 — Link Added: A Visit to John Cowper Powys by Clifford Tolchard
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)
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 Timeshttp://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)
1 September 2020 — Philobiblon, Number 8 / Winter 1966
We 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
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, 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
All 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.
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
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.
There is also a full conference report in Powys Notes1.2 Fall 1985
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.
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
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 email@example.com to enable her to get a sense of numbers attending.
Tributes and a memoir will appear in our July Newsletter.
24 February 2020 — la lettre powysienne
With acknowledgement and thanks to Jacqueline Peltier for her devoted work, we are pleased to add to our website the complete run of thirty-two issues of la lettre powysienne from Spring 2001 to Summer 2017. All issues are available in pdf, and a list of contents for each issue have been added to give a preview of what lies within.
Booking is now open for ‘Myth, Place, and Poetic Imagination’ — go to Conference Page
12 February 2020 — Tribute to George Steiner 1929–2020
As 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).