The Conference was held at The Sherborne Hotel, Sherborne, Friday 15 August to Sunday 17 August 2014
It is exciting to look forward again to a Dorset conference in the Powys Heartland. Our amazing organisers, Louise and Anna, have set us up in a Sherborne hotel, and some of us are hoping to visit Weymouth too. A sense of place was crucial to all three Powys brothers, even – perhaps especially - when they were away from their Dorset roots. It was Wilson Knight who observed, “there is a tremendous amount of Ordnance Survey in John Cowper Powys”.
This said, the talks this year reach far afield. Peter Foss, who has worked for decades on Llewelyn Powys, will be introducing us to the newly published Diary of 1910, the year when the young tubercular romantic is holed up in a Davos sanatorium. Jonathan Goodwin (who has written in the Powys Journal on A Glastonbury Romance and more recently on The Brazen Head) is coming over from America for his first Powys conference; he will be exploring JCP’s later far-flung yarns such as Atlantis. Marcella Henderson-Peal will be giving us a preliminary account of her revealing discoveries in Paris of JCP’s contacts with Jean Wahl and other French intellectuals of the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. David Gervais who has so often presented us with new insights into T.F. Powys, has promised an evening talk. And on the Friday evening I will be recollecting one of the crucial founders of the Powys Society and an early mentor to me, the Shakespearian ‘interpreter’ Wilson Knight whose pioneering study of JCP, The Saturnian Quest, was originally entitled ‘A Chart of the prose works of John Cowper Powys’.
I think our own quest, in each of these meetings, is to fill in some of the gaps in our own Powys Charts – and also, collectively, to continue to map out more fully this complex, ever fascinating terrain.
09.30 Peter Foss: ‘The Conqueror Worm’: Llewelyn Powys’s diary for 1910
11.15 Marcella Henderson-Peal: ‘JCP and France: his reception and reputation in the 1930s and later decades’
Free Afternoon: A visit to Weymouth or a guided walk to local places associated with JCP’s novel Wolf Solent
20.30 David Gervais: ‘Novellas of Theodore Francis Powys’ followed by discussion with members
Sunday 17th August
09.30 Jonathan Goodwin: ‘Style and character in JCP’s late romances’
11.00 AGM followed by discussion
12.00 Professor J. Lawrence Mitchell (Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M University). ‘John Cowper Powys and Walt Whitman, the poet of passionate friendship’: a talk on a portrait of Whitman once owned by JCP and later owned by Katie Powys.
A Visit to Wyke Manor
Robin Hickey has provided this photo and explains:
During the conference Chris Thomas — inspired by an original idea suggested by Susan Rands — took us on a walk to Wyke Manor, the house that matched the description of the house with battlements in Wolf Solent. It is on the route probably walked by JCP to the station. Kate knocked on the door and after explanations, the lady of the house allowed us into the garden with the ditch, then served tea. She and her husband are on the left of the photo. The house now belongs to Winchester University. It is little changed inside with stone floors and memorable wood supports and carvings.
See Newsletter 83 for a full account of the visit and Chris Thomas’s article identifying Wyke Manor with King’s Barton, Squire Urquhart’s home.
Peter Foss is a writer and artist and well known as an authority on Llewelyn Powys: his A Bibliography of Llewelyn Powys was published by the British Library and Oak Knoll Press in 2007. He has contributed many articles on Llewelyn Powys to the Society’s publications and was the first editor of The Powys Journal in 1991. His indispensible book on Llewelyn Powys, A Study of Llewelyn Powys: His Literary Criticism and Personal Philosophy, was published by the Edwin Mellen Press in1991. He has since edited Llewelyn’s diaries for 1903, 1908 and 1909, published by Cecil Woolf 2005-2007; his edition of Llewelyn’s diary for 1910, is to be published by Cecil Woolf in August and will be launched at the Conference. Copies will be available for sale at a special introductory price. For many years Peter has been investigating the history of Market Bosworth, its topography and links with the Battle of Bosworth. He published a history of Market Bosworth in 1983 and a book about the Battle of Bosworth, The Field of Redemore, in 1990. Recently Peter has been involved with the archaeological survey of the real Bosworth battlefield (see Newsletter No.78, March 2012). In ‘The Conqueror Worm’, Peter’s talk will focus on the context of Llewelyn’s stay at Clavadel Sanatorium in 1910 and include information about contemporary cures and treatment for tuberculosis which Llewelyn encountered, as well as a description of his fellow patients and many of the people he met in the local area.
David Gervais is Honorary Fellow of English at Reading University. He was editor, for a long time, of the Cambridge Quarterly and is an authority on French literature. He has contributed many articles on French and English literature to PN Review as well as articles on art on the work of Bonnard and Stanley Spencer. He is the author of Flaubert and Henry James, A Study of Contrasts (1979) and Literary Englands: Versions of Englishness in Modern Writing (1993) which includes sections on the Powyses. He has articles in The Powys Review and his John Cowper Powys, T.S. Eliot and French Literature is in the Cecil Woolf ‘Powys Heritage Series’.David has a special interest in the work of T.F. Powys.
Jonathan Goodwin is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He has specialist teaching interests in modernism, twentieth century and contemporary British literature, cognitive science, computational approaches to literary analysis, narrative theory, film and new media. Jonathan is co-editor of Reading Graphs, Maps, Trees: Critical responses to Franco Moretti (2011) and has published articles on Joyce, Olaf Stapledon and Wyndham Lewis. He is a member of the editorial board of the Powys Journal and has contributed articles on JCP:’Nationalism and Re-enchantment in John Cowper Powys’s A Glastonbury Romance’, (PJ, vol. XVII, 2007), and ‘Animated Fictions: Characters in The Brazen Head”, (PJ, vol. XXIII, 2013). Jonathan is currently working on three linked projects associated with temporal imagination, cognitive science, and narrative theory, and social discourse and intelligence. In his talk on JCP’s Late Romances, Jonathan will extend some of the observations he has made about The Brazen Head, Atlantis and other works.
Marcella Henderson-Peal is an ESP (English for Special Purposes) lecturer at UPEC/Paris XII University. She is currently completing a doctoral dissertation on John Cowper Powys's literary and philosophical reception in France. Marcella has been researching exchanges of correspondence and conducting interviews with French philosophers who have been influenced by JCP’s books and ideas. She has also carried out interviews with French translators of JCP’s books such as Diane de Margarie (Weymouth Sand/Les Sables de la Mer). Marcella’s researches and investigations have revealed an extensive range of unpublished material about JCP in France showing how seriously he was received by French intellectuals as early as the 1930s; she aims to collect all this material and preserve the documents and recorded memories in a special archive. In ‘JCP and France’, Marcella will examine the relationship between JCP and French existentialist philosophy between 1937 and today, illustrated with quotations from the important exchange of correspondence between JCP and Jean Wahl and other French philosophers such as Gabriel Marcel. It may be possible to show a recently made film in which the philosopher Robert Misrahi talks about JCP and his influence.
Timothy Hyman is Chairman of the Powys Society and has contributed articles on JCP to the Powys Journal and Powys Review as well as a ground-breaking essay on JCP’s philosophy of life in Essays on John Cowper Powys, edited by Belinda Humfrey (1972). He studied as a painter at the Slade and was elected Royal Academician (RA) in 2011. As well as nine London solo exhibitions (most recently ‘The Man Inscribed with London’ at Austin/Desmond Fine Art in 2009) he has shown widely and his work is in many public collections. He was artist in residence at Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres in 2011-2012. Thames & Hudson have published his monographs on Bonnard (1998) and Sienese Painting (2003). He was lead curator of the Tate’s Stanley Spencer retrospective in 2001. The influence of JCP can be seen in his multi character narratives and panoramas. Timothy has been associated with the Powys Society since its beginning and was a contributor to the centenary conference in 1972. His review of Visions and Vices, a collection of Wilson Knight’s essays on JCP was published in the Powys Journal, II, (1992) and his portrait of Wilson Knight called, “The House of the Interpreter”, was reproduced in PJ, VIII, (1998) Among his contributions to conferences was his illustrated talk on JCP the ‘Quest for the Pictorial Equivalent’ (See PJ, II). In ‘Remembering Wilson Knight’, a personal reminiscence, Timothy will explore Wilson Knight’s ’interpretation’ of JCP.