The Powys Society Conference 2024: Speakers

Charles Lock has been Professor of English Literature at the University of Copenhagen since 1996. Among his recent publications are 'Thinking on Location: an essay in the vulnerability of the subject’ in Journal of History and Theory, ‘The Codex Argenteus: some English aspects and enigmas’ (with the late Magnús Sandal) in Studies in Gothic (Oxford University Press), a survey of coastal defences in literature before 1914, and the entry on Nevill Coghill in The Chaucer Encyclopedia. Charles was editor of the Powys Journal from 2011 to 2020 and now serves as associate editor. He presented a lecture at our conference in Street in 2018 which was published in the Powys Journal in Vol. XXIX (2019) under the title, ‘Diversions and Digressions: What happens in the reading of A Glastonbury Romance’. Charles contributed an obituary of our late President Glen Cavaliero in the Powys Journal, Vol. XXX (2020). He most recently lectured at our conference in 2022 on the deleted chapters of Wolf Solent. Charles writes about his lecture at this year’s conference: “Insofar as Llewelyn Powys has received any attention at all over recent decades, it has seldom been to his advantage. His treatment of Alyse Gregory and of Gamel Woolsey was never considered admirable; it has now been assessed in the light of the women concerned. His writings on African themes are, if noticed, subject to postcolonial dismissal. His ideological writings are more strident than analytical, and were long ago superseded by others more radical and more engaging. That leaves his writings on the West Country, gathered in Dorset Essays and Somerset Essays, and those on Davos posthumously published as Swiss Essays. On these, Llewelyn’s reputation as a writer may now depend.” 

Florence Marie is Senior Lecturer in English Studies at the University of Pau et les Pays de l'Adour (E2S UPPA). She is a member of ALTER. She defended her thesis on J.C. Powys in 2003 and since then she has published articles on his first eight novels and on other modernist writers (with special interest in Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage). She is the editor of a volume of Rives entitled Le fou–cet autre, mon frère (L’Harmattan, 2012), one of the contributors to Féminisme et prostitution dans l’Angleterre du xixe siècle: la croisade de Josephine Butler (ed. by Frédéric Regard, ENS Éditions, 2014) and the co-editor of L’incarnation artistique : mises en scènes littéraires (L’Harmattan, 2021) and of a forthcoming volume on May Sinclair (2024).
Florence writes: “The usual tendency, and rightly so, is to focus on J.C. Powys’s landscapes and to analyse his characters’ relationships to them. However, his characters are also people who live in houses or modest lodgings, and the idea of home, as defined by Enoch Quirm in Maiden Castle, “We call a place a ‘home’ where people live whose play doesn’t suit the rest” and its concrete reality are present in the four Wessex novels under study. This does not necessarily mean that J. C. Powys was influenced by his nineteenth-century predecessors - although he was - since Victoria Rosner has offered an interesting assessment of the role of the domestic sphere in modernist literature (Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life, 2005). So I want to explore the ambivalence that seems to lie at the heart of Powys’s heroes’ relationship to the interiors they inhabit – caught as they seem to be between a desire to shed all their possessions and the pleasure they take in old-fashioned, well-furnished rooms. This ambivalence may in part stem from a gendered distinction, namely the ability that some of Powys’s female characters seem to have to create an “atmosphere”, a gift that Dorothy Richardson said was one of the prerogatives of women. No wonder, then, that the domestic sphere can in some cases become the very place over which men and women argue. I will also consider the way in which the houses chosen by the Powysian heroes, though lairs to which they like to return, are linked to the notion of the threshold, and what this might suggest and mean.”

Goulven le Brech is Deputy Director of the collections of Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (Imec). He is a specialist in the French philosopher Jules Lequier (1814-1862). He is co-author of the book John Cowper Powys, a philosophy of life, with Pierrick Hamelin (2012). His last book, Little Blue Books (2023), is about the life and publishing house of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, one of John Cowper and Llewelyn's editors. Goulven writes about his joint presentation with Marcella: “The aim of our talk is to situate the reception of John Cowper Powys's work within the realm of French publishing companies, through the collections of the Institut Mémoires de l'édition contemporaine (Imec). Imec, based in Caen, Normandy, holds numerous archives of authors, publishers and organisations linked to publishing, as well as a large collection of printed matter, including a substantial number of well-known and little-known literary magazines. A cross-sectional search of Imec's collections provides a wealth of information on translations of his works, the distribution of his texts in French journals and how Powys and his philosophy and outlook on life have been the subject of research in France. It also explains how the works of Llewelyn and Theodore Francis Powys have been translated and disseminated in France, in the tradition of John Cowper Powys. Marcella did a lot of research at Imec in 2012 and came upon various JCP-related correspondence between publishers and translators. It would seem that the bulk of the Powys brothers collections or mentions are to be found at IMEC rather than at Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.”

Marcella Henderson-Peal serves on the Powys Society committee. She is the official representative of the Powys Society in France. Marcella has contributed articles on JCP to la lettre powysienne, the Powys Society Newsletter and the Powys Journal. She gave a lecture on JCP and France: his reception and reputation in the 1930s and later decades, at our conference in 2014. She has examined JCP’s relationships with his French translators especially Marie Canavaggia published in the Powys Journal, Vol. XXV, 2015.  Marcella has also made an in-depth study of the correspondence between French philosopher Jean Wahl, published in collaboration with Charles Lock, in the Powys Journal, Vol. XXIV, 2014. She led tributes to her close friend and fellow JCP enthusiast, Jacqueline Peltier, at our 2019 conference. Marcella provided an introduction to the French translation of JCP’s Suspended Judgements published by Jacqueline Peltier. She often organises social events and meetings with Powysians in Paris. Marcella’s presentation at this year’s conference will include anecdotes she has uncovered about JCP’s French translators and publishers especially translations in France of Owen Glendower, Weymouth Sands and A Glastonbury Romance.

Patrick Quigley is a retired public servant, the author of a novel, Borderland, and a ‘trilogy’ of historical studies on Polish-Irish connections: The Polish Irishman: Life and Times of Count Casimir Markievicz (2012), Sisters Against the Empire: Countess Markievicz & Eva Gore-Booth (2016), and Stasko: Ireland, Poland & the Legacy of Countess Markievicz (2022). He is currently condensing the books into a single volume for translation into Polish. His most recent publication is an essay on “Ireland in Chassis: National Identity and Religion in the 21st Century” in the collection, Understanding Ireland, (Catholic University of Lublin, 2023.) Patrick joined the Powys Society committee in August 2023 as a Trustee.
Patrick says: “My talk will draw on the insights of Powys scholars (Glen Cavaliero, William Keith and Richard Maxwell) as well as contemporary studies on cultural memory, notably Prof Ann Rigney’s The Afterlives of Walter Scott, which traces how Scott’s reputation has been changed and sustained for over two centuries – an approach that offers possibilities for promoting the rich cultural heritage of the Powys family. Critics have highlighted convergences between Scott and Powys in their stress on the influence of landscape over the individual and the romantic appeal of the lost cause. In Owen Glendower he emulates and surpasses the grandeur, spaciousness and reverence for life of his Scottish inspirer. Powys returned to his childhood for inspiration in his historical romance Porius where the Scottish mage, Michael Scott, and scenes from Last Minstrel are transformed and reimagined. Powys claimed that Scott was the most formative influence on his literary work, but apart from some early lectures and references in Autobiography he wrote little about him. During childhood days in Montacute when his mother recited Scott’s epic poem, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, the Scottish writer became imbued with an aura combining magical power with the spell of story-telling. Scott became part of the furniture of his mind - a resource and an example. Powys admired the “inexhaustible vitality” and serenity of Scott and followed his methods in his own sprawling novels/tales/romances. Scott’s fame approached its apogee during the Victorian era and began to decline, as his disciple wryly noted. Powys’ interest in Scott sharpened with his move to Wales in 1935; the latter’s relationship with Scotland became a template for his attempt to reconnect with his sense of Welsh identity. He drew on Scott’s Quentin Durward, Ivanhoe and other romances in the composition of Owen Glendower. However, Powys surpassed Scott’s depiction of the stolid Durward with his portrayal of the more complex Rhisiart.”