Books of Powysian Interest from other Publishers

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Valentine Ackland: a Transgressive Life Valentine Ackland: A Transgressive Life
by Frances Bingham

Published by Handheld Press on 20 May 2021

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

Up and Out: A Mystery Tale, John Cowper Powys

Available from Zephyr Books. Publication date, 25 November 2020

 

Up and Out, John Cowper Powys: Front CoverIn this novella, first published in 1957, a young couple, Gor Goginog and Rhitha, experience the great dual atomic explosion which ends the world, and smashes the planet to smithereens.

Cast into space on the last tiny green scrap of the Earth’s surface, they encounter the only other remaining beings from the dead planet, a couple blown up to their scrap by the force of the blast. Org is a composite creature, created by vivisectionists - part walrus, part fish, part bird - in fact made of a huge number of different animals’ body parts. With him is his partner, Asm, who is human like Gor and Rhitha.

As Gor, Rhitha, Org and Asm spin on through space, they philosophize about the catastrophe which has taken place, and encounter a Time-monster in the shape of a huge forked-tongued slug, through whose body they are pulled to the ultimate Void beyond. There they discover the utter abjectness of Eternity, and watch it swallow itself.

In the empty grey space beyond Time, they are visited by Mathonwy, the star Aldebaran, Kwangtse, Buddha, and some Greek gods arguing in a cloud, everyone discussing all the while, building revelation upon revelation, as the realisation dawns that the whole universe wants to kill itself! Finally, in a tumultuous capstone section, God and the Devil are their culminating visitors, in a conversation with the four which sometimes seems augustly impressive, sometimes a delightfully funny and petty argumentative chat. They all six come to a momentous decision together, which will change everything.

By the 1950s, John Cowper Powys had lived a very long life packed full of philosophical speculation. His thoughts had ranged far and wide, examining many of the world’s systems of thought and religious understandings. His extraordinary primary powers had engendered a way of marshalling them all, in profound relation to each other, and in relation to himself. Now, in his old age, he was inspired to begin on a short fantastical eschatological work which encompassed these ideas. The result, Up and Out, is one of the most eccentrically original pieces of fiction ever written.

Glastonbury Holy Thorn: Story of a Legend, Adam Stout

Green & Pleasant Publishing. Hardcover, 156 pp, plus 16 pp of colour plates.

 

Glastonbury Holy Thorn: cover

This book includes a discussion of the role of the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury in John Cowper Powys’ A Glastonbury Romance.

Link to author's blog with information on how to order

About the book:

The Holy Thorn of Glastonbury is the stuff that myth is made from. Stories grow on this famous tree like fruit, and wrap around it like creepers. It’s a shape-shifter. It’s been Catholic, Protestant, Pagan, universal. It’s succoured royalty, loyalty, defiance and subversion. It’s been condemned as patriarchal and revered as a feminine spirit. It’s been harnessed by imperialists and peacemakers and nationalists and universalists. It’s stood for better times and better days. For Christmas cheer and better nature, for all trees and all nature, for peace and for hope. This book is the biography of a symbol. 

Dr Adam Stout is a writer and historian, and has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Universities of Wales, Leicester, Exeter and Southampton. He has written and lectured widely on the idea of Glastonbury.

Bloomsbury Stud: The Life of Stephen ‘Tommy’ Tomlin

by Michael Bloch and Susan Fox , Bloomsbury, £40.00, 24 September 2020

Bloomsbury Stud: front cover

STEPHEN TOMLIN (1901–37), known to friends as ‘Tommy’, is the mystery man of the Bloomsbury Group. Though tantalising glimpses of him appear in biographies of the main Bloomsbury figures, BLOOMSBURY STUD is the first serious account of his life. A talented sculptor, trained by Frank Dobson, Tommy is best known for his widely admired busts of Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf, to be found in the permanent collections of leading museums. But he was a man of many other artistic gifts, a poet, actor, musician and ceramicist, also renowned for his seductive charm and brilliant conversation. more>>

The Powys Connection

Chris Thomas writes:
Stephen Tomlin came to East Chaldon in 1921 where he met TFP and introduced him to Sylvia Townsend Warner and David Garnett. Stephen Tomlin and TFP collaborated on writing a play together entitled The Sin-Eater. The play was presented in a reading at our conference in Chichester in 2006. There are several letters from Stephen Tomlin to TFP in the Powys Collection at Exeter University. In Newsletter No.58, July 2006 we published a letter from Stephen Tomlin to TFP postmarked 24 Jan 1923 in which he says:

Theo, my dear, I cannot express what I felt & always shall feel about Beth Car & its inhabitants. I seriously do not suppose I shall ever again be so continuously happy, or tap such a deep well of contentment, as in my Chaldon sojourn; & a very great part of that happiness came from you...I am in debt to you for 18 months happiness, and you may write it down a bad debt, for I shall never be able to repay you.

Newsletter No.58 also reproduces on the back cover a photo of Tomlin with his sculpted portrait head of TFP.

This publication is timely since we are planning to publish in Newsletter 101 (Nov. 2020) transcriptions of letters from TFP to Bloomsbury writer and translator Angus Davidson which mention “Tommy” several times.

 

Patchin Place, Ray Crozier: front cover

Patchin Place: The Powyses and Literary New York,
by Ray Crozier

Sundial Press, £9.95 January 2020

Devotees of John Cowper Powys and Llewelyn Powys are aware that the brothers lived in Patchin Place in the 1920s. John Cowper set up home there with Phyllis Playter for the first time, and Llewelyn met both his future wife Alyse Gregory and his lover Gamel Woolsey there. Their sister, Marian Powys, had set up a successful lace business in Manhattan and was a frequent visitor. Their time in the alley was significant for their writing careers. This was due  in part to the connections they formed through the small literary magazines, particularly The Little Review and its ‘foreign editor’ Ezra Pound, and The Dial, where Gregory was briefly managing editor. Cummings was John Cowper’s neighbour in the top floor of number 4.

The Owl, the Duck, Miss Rowe! Miss Rowe!

The Owl, the Duck, Miss Rowe! Miss Rowe! by John Cowper Powys

Republished by Zephyr Press, Nov 2019

In this extraordinary piece all of John Cowper Powys’ eccentric and wild inventiveness is on display. In a small flat in New York in the 1920s (Patchin Place — see above) an old couple, former circus performers, live a crotchety life of poverty and fear. The ones they fear are ‘the Authorities’, their name for the cruel and unthinking denizens of the outside world who want to put them into a home.

With a saucy combination of ghoulishness and bouncing enthusiasm John Cowper Powys revels here in unbounded invention, creating a short masterpiece of great eccentricity and capacious fantasy, which was first published in a limited edition in Chicago in 1930. 

The Book of Taliesin: a New Translation

The Book of Taliesin: Poems of Warfare and Praise in an Enchanted Britain. Tr. Gwyneth Lewis and Rowan Williams. Penguin Classics 2019

A source of inspiration for John Cowper Powys, this book deserves our salute. The call for ‘poetic imagination’ from the translators’ introduction eloquently propounds the Powysian values we uphold.

The Book of Taliesin From the Introduction:
“ The figure of Taliesin and the wildly diverse poetic material of the Llyvyr Taliessin continue to be of persistent and compelling interest as we try to imagine the nature of imagination itself. We are regularly reminded that we currently live in a ‘disenchanted’ age — which seems to mean that we are condemned to see the world around us as a storehouse of raw material for self-gratifying human projects, and the remote history and residually remembered myths we inherit as, at best, decorative fancies and, at worst, hangovers from an embarrassingly unsophisticated past. The Taliesin poems insist, in a voice that is passionate, sometimes derisively challenging, sometimes breathtakingly fresh, adventurous and musical, that such disenchantment is simply a way of settling down into a drab and reductive version of who we are and what our world is. We hardly need these days to underline the practical effects of this reductive approach, in the devastation of our environment, the brutal erosion of the rights and dignities of indigenous peoples and the sheer frantic hollowness at the heart of the so-called developed world. In such a world, poetic imagination is no idle luxury: the poet is the person who is most intensely and fully aligned with the hidden energy and spirit that pervades our world, and we are poorer and less human if we try to sideline or ignore this truth.”

powysland, john cowper powys, tim blanchard

Tim Blanchard, Powysland: The Discovery of John Cowper Powys

‘Very few writers create a world of their own. John Cowper Powys was one of this select company, and the world he fashioned is like nothing else in literature. Anyone who wants to explore this strange, magical and yet somehow earthily realistic alternative reality should begin by reading Powysland’. — John Gray

Available from The Sundial Press

Visit Tim Blanchard's POWYSLAND website

philippa powys, the blackthorn winter, the powys society, sundial press

The Blackthorn Winter
by Philippa Powys

First paperback edition

Limited special price of £10.00 to Powys Society members

The Sundial Press

The Sundial Press is an independent publisher with a programme of reprints of early-twentieth-century books with new introductions, including works by Alyse Gregory (Hester Craddock and King Log & Lady Lea), Llewelyn Powys (two volumes of Wessex Essays and CHRISTMAS LORE AND LEGEND Yuletide Essays), Theodore Powys (Unclay and Kindness in a Corner), Philippa Powys (The Blackthorn Winter and Sorrel Barn & The Tragedy of Budvale) and Littleton Powys (The Joy Of It) plus The Sailor's Return by David Garnett (with a previously omitted chapter and an Introduction by J. Lawrence Mitchell) and the previously unpublished Patterns on the Sand by Gamel Woolsey (with an Introduction by Barbara Ozieblo).

clay phoenix a biography of jack clemo, luke thompson

Clay Phoenix: A Biography of Jack Clemo, Luke Thompson

Strike, £15.00 (paperback)

Jack Clemo is best known as a poet – one of the most extraordinary poets of the twentieth century. His novel Wilding Graft (1948) was admired by T.F. Powys; the two corresponded and met. In his second volume of autobiography, The Marriage of a Rebel (1980), Clemo’s sense of kinship with T. F. Powys - to whom he also dedicated a poem, ‘A Kindred Battlefield’ - is made explicit: ‘He too had chosen the unworldly borderline, the terrible wrestle with God.’

Clay Phoenix is the first biography of Clemo, and it is the first study to draw from Clemo's extensive archives; an archive that includes sixty years of diaries, letters (including to and from Charles Causley, Cecil Day Lewis, Mary Whitehouse, AL Rowse, Frances Bellerby, TF Powys, George MacBeth and Sir Arthur Quiller Couch), manuscripts of every volume of Clemo’s work and a large photograph collection. — Luke Thompson lectures at Falmouth University.

glen cavaliero the flash of weathercocks

The Flash of Weathercocks:
New and Collected Poems
by Glen Cavaliero

Troubador Publishing. £11.99 (paperback) £24.99 (hardback)

“Cavaliero is a poet with much to offer, shrewd in his observation of human nature and technically assured in his articulation of relatively figurative emotions and sensations” – Glyn Pursglove, Acumen

“Sharply observant... [His poems] have that sense of place which such poetry needs” – John Betjeman

“Cavaliero is one of the master-shapers of the English stanza” – Charles Lock, Poetry Salzburg Review

Jugements Réservés: Jacqueline Peltier’s translation of JCP’s Suspended Judgements.

With notes by the translator and an introduction by Marcella Henderson-Peal. View further information.

Paul Weston, Glastonbury Psychogeography

Avalon Aeon Publications, 2016: Includes a discussion of A Glastonbury Romance.

zouheir jamoussi_theodore-powys-gods-and-demons

Theodore Powys’s Gods and Demons, Zouheir Jamoussi

A revision of Jamoussi's 1971 doctoral thesis,
available from: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Price: £47.99. Dr Jamoussi was a lecturer at The University of Tunis.

earth memories

Llewelyn Powys, Earth Memories

From John Gray's introduction: ‘These essays celebrate the life of the spirit – not by turning to an otherworldly realm, or retreating into the shadowy depths of the mind, but by standing still and looking anew at the sun and rain and the changing seasons.

As Powys shows, the human spirit is reborn when it sees the natural world as it actually is – a spectacle of inexhaustible beauty.’ 

llewelyn powys, skin for skin

Llewelyn Powys, Skin for Skin (Conquistador Press)

First published in 1925, Skin For Skin is a deeply personal account of Llewelyn Powys’ encounter with tuberculosis, which he contracted in 1909 at the age of twenty-five. In those days, prior to the discovery of antibiotics, TB - or consumption as it was then called - was a leading cause of death; for Powys, the bubbling sensation in his lungs and the blood in his mouth amounted to a sentence of death. In the pages of this uncompromising memoir we accompany him to a Swiss sanitarium to recover his health, then back to the south of England for a period of convalescence, hoping that the symptoms of the “hideous complaint” do not return. Hoping - but not praying. For Powys, an atheist, there is no comfort in a belief in God and an immortal soul, and so he finds himself staring into the abyss.

llewelyn powys 1884-1939

The experience, as so much else in the book, is recounted in powerfully vivid, lyrical prose:

“I would wake in the small hours of the morning swaddled in fear. With scared eyes I would peer into the darkness of my room, and into the unknown days before me, and come to realize, during those tense, suspended moments, how completely unattended, how intolerably alone we are, each one of us, like cattle herded into a merciless stockyard, to be driven into the shambles, separately, when our turn comes.”

And yet, despite the soulless darkness, there is reason for existence. As we see in Skin For Skin, Powys finds it in enjoying life to the fullest, in feasting upon it while he has it, in squeezing the last drop of joy from each day. As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle concluded in its review in 1925, “Rugged, brutal and yet, in spots, tender, Skin For Skin makes life worth living after all.”

Porius on KindleJohn Cowper Powys’ Six Major Novels are now available as eBooks

See the society's publications page.

Wolf Solent, A Glastonbury Romance, Weymouth Sands, Maiden Castle, Owen Glendower, Porius — all scanned to a very high standard.

The Powys Society honors its mission to keep these masterpieces in print.

Powys works on Faber Finds

Faber Finds have issued eBook / print on demand titles as follows:

  • John Cowper Powys: Wood and Stone, Rodmoor, After My Fashion, Ducdame, Morwyn, Atlantis, The Brazen Head, The Inmates, The Art of Happiness, In Defence of Sensuality, Autobiography.
  • T. F. Powys: Mockery Gap, Innocent Birds, Fables, Mark Only, God's Eyes A-Twinkle, Mr Tasker's Gods

Phillppa Powys: Sorrel Barn and The Tragedy of Budvale

Two previously unpublished novellas,with an Introduction by Cicely Hill and Editor's Note by Louise de Bruin,
SUNDIAL PRESS

“Philippa my dear I must congratulate you on the excitement your Budvale caused us. Alyse read it first & expressed herself astonished at its power & beauty. Then as soon as Lulu was back I read it all through aloud to them both, in two readings. And Lulu was as excited as I have only about once before seen him excited by any writing.
I do congratulate you on this work … but I regard it as only a prelude to others more beautiful & formidable.” – John Cowper Powys (in a letter to the author, August 1924).

philippa powys, sorrel barn and budvale

‘A FEW evenings later Zola found herself once more fetching water. The sun had set, but darkness still held aloof from the fields. The winds were cold, though the primroses crowded the woods, and violets lay concealed between their new leaves; a great part of the fallow land remained bare. Through a border of trees to a field below Zola followed the little foot-path, where behind a big walnut there lay hidden among a network of bushes a clear spring of water. Having first leant over to drink from the rising bubbles themselves, she filled her pails, then turned to leave the well as she found it – a temple for the birds. But almost as quickly she dropped them as she could not resist the desire to pick the primroses which clustered yellow at different points on the banks beside her. What joy they gave her, with their fragrance and their delicacy!’ (From Sorrel Barn)
READ MORE here

Under the Shadow of the Oath, Mary Casey, Edited by Louise de Bruin

Old Africa Books (September 2012)

mary casey - Under the Shadow of the Oath

The poet and diarist Mary Casey (1915-1980) was the niece of John Cowper, Theodore Francis and Llewelyn Powys. After her marriage to Gerard Casey she followed him to Kenya, where he was working as a farm assistant for her uncle and godfather W.E. (Will) Powys. The title of this selection from Mary Casey's African journals Under the Shadow of the Oath refers to the Mau Mau Uprising, which started in 1952. By then the Caseys were well established on their own farm on the slopes of Mount Kenya just above a forest reserve, a hiding-place for dangerous wild animals as well as the Mau Mau, but as Mary Casey writes ‘ ... if you have to spend your days with people who have taken blood-curling oaths for your destruction the only possible way to carry on is as if everything was as usual, apart from what seem reasonable precautions.’ Her journals offered often a refuge and meant to her 'above all a transmutation by poetic thought of grief into some kind of tragic drama; of joy in the elements into song'.

See review by Jeremy Hooker

Wessex Essays of Llewelyn Powys

llewelyn powys durdle door to dartmoor

DURDLE DOOR TO DARTMOOR, paperback £9.99 from The Sundial Press

CONTENTS: The Durdle Door - The White Nose - A Bronze Age Valley - Bats Head -The Fossil Forest - The Castle Park of East Lulworth - St Aldhelm’s Head - Studland - Corfe Castle - Herring Gulls - Stalbridge Rectory - The River Yeo - Cerne Abbas - Stinsford Churchyard - The Grave of William Barnes - Weymouth Harbour - Portland - A Famous Wreck - Hardy’s Monument - The Swannery Bell at Abbotsbury - Lyme Regis - Montacute House - Ham Hill - On the Other Side of the Quantocks - Exmoor - Dartmoor

Still Blue Beauty

llewelyn powys still blue beauty

STILL BLUE BEAUTY, paperback £9.99 from The Sundial Press (An attractive second volume of twenty-six Wessex Essays, including four previously uncollected)

CONTENTS: The Sea! The Sea! The Sea! - Lodmoor - The Memory of One Day - A Stonehenge in Miniature - The Father of Dorset - A Pond - High Chaldon - A Royal Rebel - Somerset Names - Montacute Hill - The Village Shop - The Wordsworths in Dorset - The World Is New! - A Visit by Moonlight - Shaftesbury: Champion of the Poor - A Wish for Freedom - Athelney: In the Steps of King Alfred - Wookey Hole - Green Corners of Dorset - Recollections of Thomas Hardy - A Foolish Razorbill - A Richer Treasure - Weymouth Memories - The Shambles Fog-Horn - Dorchester Lives.

Crescent Moon Publishing

The following Crescent Moon books in their John Cowper Powys Studies Series are available as e-books at Amazon and other online sellers.

  • Amorous Life: John Cowper Powys and the Manifestation of Affectivity, by H.W. Fawkner
  • Rethinking Powys: Critical Essays on John Cowper Powys, ed. by Jeremy Robinson
  • Postmodern Powys, by Joe Boulter
  • Thomas Hardy and John Cowper Powys: Wessex Revisited, by Jeremy Robinson
  • Sensualism and Mythology: The Wessex Novels of John Cowper Powys, by Jeremy Robinson
  • The Ecstasies of John Cowper Powys, by A.P. Seabright

The Brynmill Press

The Brynmill Press has issued several important previously unpublished works by T.F. Powys — Father Adam (1990) — The Market Bell (1991) — Mock’s Curse (1995) — The Sixpenny Strumpet (1997) — Selected Early Works (2005) — as well as a memoir Cuckoo in The Powys Nest by T.F.Powys's adopted daughter, Theodora Scutt, and T.F. Powys Aspects of a Life by J. Lawrence Mitchell.