the powys society
Glen Cavaliero

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the powys society
Timothy Hyman

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llewelyn powys diary of a reluctant teacher

John Cowper Powys
T. F. Powys
Llewelyn Powys The Powys Family
john cowper powys t f powys
llewelyn powys
the powys family


The eleven children born to Charles Francis Powys, an Anglican clergyman, were a uniquely precocious family, one of the most significant in the cultural history of Britain, of whom the writers John Cowper Powys, T. F. Powys and Llewelyn Powys are the most famous. But they also included the architect and conservationist A. R. Powys, the artist Gertrude Powys, the lacemaker Marian Powys, the notable headmaster Littleton Powys and the poet and novelist Philippa Powys. Primarily, though not exclusively, the focus of the Society is on the three writing brothers; distinctively unique as both individuals and authors.

The Society, a registered charity, was founded to promote and encourage the appreciation and enjoyment of the writings of John Cowper, Theodore and Llewelyn Powys and to establish their true literary status.

The aims of The Powys Society are:
- To promote a wider general readership and stimulate scholarly study and discussion of the works of the Powys brothers
- To actively promote an expanded universe around the Powyses
- To provide a comprehensive and accurate resource on the life and works of the Powyses

If you are an admirer, an enthusiast, a reader, a scholar, or a student of anything Powysian, then this international society would like to hear from you, and welcomes your participation in its activities.


Membership benefits include:

- A membership pack on joining.

- An annual Journal devoted to the study of the life and works of John Cowper, Theodore and Llewelyn Powys plus three 50 page newsletters (March, July and November).

- The Society is active in promoting the life and works of the Powys family. Speakers are arranged for special events.

- Opportunities to meet fellow Powysians and those who share your interest.

- An annual weekend conference and Powys Days.  JOIN US

Greetings to All

EVENTS for 2017

Two POWYS Days

john cowper powys, porius

Saturday 29 April

Old Fire Engine House (restaurant and art gallery), 25 St. Mary’s Street, Ely

Thursday 15 June

Exeter University, Old Library, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, Devon

Details of both the above events on the News and Events webpage


The Powys Society Conference, 2017
The Hand Hotel, Bridge Street, Llangollen
Friday 18th to Sunday 20th August

In 1909, Mrs Rodolph Stawell, made a journey, by car, through Wales at a time when there must have been very few other motorists. She described Llangollen in her book, Motor Tours in Wales:a little town that owes its charm entirely to its is an entrancing place.’ In the eighteenth century the English naturalist, William Bingley, also toured Wales, and observed the view of Llangollen from a distance ‘with its church and elegant bridge romantically embosomed in mountains.’ When JCP arrived in Llangollen in May 1935, on the way to his new home in Corwen, he was at first unimpressed. He wrote in his diary that he thought Llangollen was: ‘a grievous disappointment...we shall not return.’ However on that first visit he was also very much impressed by the river Dee and instantly remembered, appropriately, a line from Milton’s Lycidas, 'where Deva spreads her wizard stream'. He stared, transfixed, at the ruins of Dinas Bran and prayed for the soul of Owen Glendower. JCP’s veneration for the subject of his new novel, which he was already thinking about, connects with a fragment of verse by Shelley: ‘Great Spirit whom the sea of boundless thought nurtures within its imagined caves...’ Of course JCP did return to Llangollen many times. He loved the town and its surroundings reversing his original impression. For this year’s conference we also return to Llangollen and the friendly hospitality of the Hand Hotel in its picturesque position overlooking the Dee. Famous guests who have stayed here, in the past, have included Darwin, Wordsworth, Browning, Scott and Shaw.

Speakers: Grevel Lindop, David Goodway, David Stimpson and Patrick Quigley

  Full details, including the Conference Booking Form, can be viewed on the Conference 2017 webpage

Just issued: The Powys Society Newsletter No. 90 (March 2017)

powys society newsletter 90 (march 2017)



An essay by Llewelyn Powys

llewelyn powys, the twelve monthsIT IS SAID THAT AUGUSTUS CAESAR, WHEN IT was proposed that a month should be named after him, stipulated, for the sake of his personal dignity, that it should contain as many days as the longest. In order to effect this for the month of August, February, as usual, was robbed. February, a modest unobtrusive month, was already poorer in its allowance of days than the other eleven; indeed, it seems to have been a recognized tradition to treat this month shabbily.
   The word February is derived from the Latin word, februare—to expiate, its name seeming to suggest a consciousness of sin. The Saxons, in their matter-of-fact way, originally called the month Sprout-kale, because the growth of cabbages increased in February. Afterwards, however, they gave it the prouder name of Sol-Monath for the good reason that the strengthening of the sunshine is first appreciated during its weeks. Surely February deserved the more honourable title, for it is a sensitive month and possesses tentative qualities that cannot be matched by any of the other eleven.

   The most dense of us are liable to experience unexpected sensations during the short weeks of February. It may be that we are hurrying along a city pavement deep sunk in the illusions of the hour, brooding over some mundane transaction, harassed by domestic responsibility, or distracted by poverty; when, suddenly, something in the air will bring us an entire release, an entire purification of the spirit, and we shall be children again playing our games on those lovely evenings when it first began to be light after tea. Was it the coltsfoot we noticed in flower on some piece of land lying waste for building purposes, or the woman at the kerb selling the first daffodils from the Channel Islands, or a particular luminous glow in the sky such as we never saw in the evenings of old ‘Janiveer freeze the pot upon the fire’?

   If you hve in the country it is always as if someone—the one whose voice you wish most to hear—were calling to you to come to them from the other side of the hedge. Life is already tingling with the irresistible urge of a new season, tingling in every tiny jointed thorn twig, tingling through the air-filled quills of the cock chaffinches, whose feathers each day grow brighter and brighter.
Let the frost return, let the snow fly past our windows and pile itself in drifts against the hedges, we remain unintimidated. It is February, and to-morrow or the next day the sun will be shining again upon the sprouting leaves of the lords and ladies, and upon the first shining gold of the earliest celandines.
I know that I shall die
Love so my heart bewitches
It makes me howl and cry
Oh how my elbow itches!
   We are alive still on the earth, and the rich plenty of another year lies before us. The pussy willows are out in the withy-bed already, with their buds of silver fur soft as the fur on the abdomen of baby rabbits. If you take a few steps along the oozing ground by the stream’s edge you will see your first king-cups out in flower, the very same that Shakespeare knew as Mary buds, observing their special beauty as they opened their round shining petals in early mornings in Warwickshire.

   In England we pick the pussy willows in place of fan-shaped palm leaves to commemorate the strawing of the way for the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. These elfin silver-tipped wands would have served such a purpose well. It is easy to imagine how the ass’s quick feet would have moved effortless over them. When ‘the palms’ are out in our hedges we know that Easter is not far off—Easter time with its hot-cross-buns and moss and primroses, and its promise of a rich summer with the rising again of Adonis.

   On the Dorset downs February is marked in the natural world by two happenings. In this month the ravens begin to build their nests on a well selected ledge far up the dizzy sea cliffs. Backwards and forwards over the wide downland valleys the black ominous lovers go, creatures with undeviating flight resolutely absorbed in their own occupations, creatures with eyes and ears and nostrils flying free through the levels of the unmeasured sky. The young of their first clutch of eggs will be hatched before even the guillemots have returned to the nesting crevices on the perpendicular side of Bats Head.

   The second happening which especially tells us it is February belongs to the night. During these weeks the foxes are mating, and the dog foxes that raise their prick ears under the starlight, or feel the brambles snatch the hair out of their red jackets, no longer give utterance to their wearish mid-winter bark, harsh and husky, but instead utter calls of love, sounds that might come through a hollow fluted reed, as if the ancient hills had truly been invaded by the children of Dionysos, calling, calling to each other to come to play.
We leap and we dance.
We call and we worship
All life from the womb.
   The vixen’s love-call has nothing classical about it. There is no yearning, no melody in her answer. It is the cry of a soul in fear, of a tortured soul utterly abandoned to a rending desire.

   The movements of life are strange. When I meditate upon the fearful outcry of one of these roaming vixens, think of her sniffing her way distractedly through the hazel-wood copse, and then remember the lambs’tails—those innocent childlike tokens of the vernal equinox, that are swaying above her in the night wind, swaying in the white moonlight—I experience a sensation of the deepest awe before the wild contrasting poetry of nature.

   In country places the weather conditions on the second day of February are still carefully observed. It is an old rumour that if the weather is seen to be fair at Candlemas a cold and bitter spring may be expected, but if Candlemas is foul the winter is over and we have nothing but sunshine before us. The notion is embodied in the country persuasion that on this day the badger looks out of his set, and if he finds snow on the ground walks abroad, but if he sees the sun shining draws back in disgust, taking it for a sure sign that the winter is not yet over.

   The belief that Candlemas is a day almost as weatherwise as St. Swithun’s must be very ancient, for our kinsmen, the Germans, have similar sayings, such as ‘The shepherd would rather see the wolf enter his stable on Candlemas Day than the sun’. Indeed, everywhere in the north of Europe men are suspicious of too early a spring. February in the old pictures is always associated with the watery signs of the Zodiac—Pisces and Aquarius—and though our town populations may hope for fine weather in February this is not at all the wish of those who till the soil that they may eat.

   To please the farming population the sky must be heavy with clouds during the month, and if possible with the dense dark clouds that presage a heavy fall of sleet or snow.
February fill dyke
Either black (mud) or white (snow);
If it be white
Its the better to like.
   And again it is reported that

The Welshman would rather see his Dam on her bier
Than a fair Februeer.
llewelyn powys, the twelve months, february badger illustration

From The Twelve Months by Llewelyn Powys (The Bodley Head, 1936.)

Newsletter 89 (52 pages)

powys society newsletter 89 front cover
Powys Society Newsletter 89
front cover


The Conference 2016

DVDs of Conference Talks

AGM and Hon. Secretary’s report

Meeting in London, December 3rd

‘My Conference’: Kevin Taylor,
Robin Hickey, Rampaul Chamba,
Marcel Bradbury

Jung’s Glastonbury Romance

The Llewelyn Birthday Walk 2016

News and Notes

Review: Michael Kowalewski on

Zouheir Jamoussi’s Theodore Powys’s
Gods and Demons

Review: Arjen Mulder on Llewelyn
Powys: Recalled to Life,
A Consumptive’s Diary, 1911

Julia Mathews: Childhood Memories

of T.F. Powys in Mappowder

Inscriptions and Dedications

Ron Hall: Introduction and
John Cowper Powys’s letters 

powys society newsletter 89 back cover
Powys Society Newsletter 89
back cover

To those of us who came on the Powys scene in the early 1970s with Jeff Kwintner’s Village Press, Ron(ald) Hall is a familiar name. Ron (1929-1985) left two heartfelt tributes to JCP’s effect on his life, one the introduction to JCP’s letters to Henry Miller in the 1975 Village edition, and another to the unpublished letters from JCP to his young self, some of which are in this Newsletter.
   The chief publishing event of the Powys year has been Recalled to Life, the fifth and most substantial of Llewelyn Powys’s diaries edited by Peter Foss, whose conference talk filled in the background to 1911. Arjen Mulder also takes a personal view of Llewelyn in Switzerland. The customary LlP Birthday Walk took place at East Chaldon (this year simultaneously with the conference). JCP as so often dominated the talks, but Michael Kowalewski discusses a Tunisian study of Theodore Powys, who is also recalled by Julia Mathews in her childhood memories of Mappowder. Chris Thomas tracks interesting leads and connections, from Jung at Chalice Well to Van Gogh’s boots, and charts the wealth of revealing inscriptions on the flyleaves of Powys books.
                                                                                                                                          Kate Kavanagh
A PDF of this Newsletter is available to download
Text file here       Cover (front & back) file here

01 March 2017

The full contents of the inventory of the Powys Society Collection located at Exeter University will be uploaded to this website during the coming weeks. All files (which open in a new tab or window) will be available to read in PDF format. The catalogue is extensive -- 'work in progress' is underway.


Articles and Books About

Books by

Contributions to
Periodicals & Books

Ex Libris

to other books



Books by

Articles and Books About

Book Reviews

Books by

Contributions to
Periodicals & Books

Ex Libris


Miscellaneous Articles and Books About

Books by

Contributions to
other books

Ex Libris




by Philippa Powys

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

First paperback edition

Price: 12.50

ISBN-13: 9780955152320

230 pages Book Dimensions: 198 129 mm

Limited special price of 10.00 to Powys Society members

The latest publication from The Powys Press (2016)
llewelyn powys recalled to life, the powys society

Llewelyn Powys: A Consumptive’s Diary, 1911

Edited by Peter Foss

The Powys Press

By the spring of 1911, the writer Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939) – then only 26 – had spent eighteen months at a Swiss sanatorium, being treated for the tuberculosis which the previous year had nearly killed him. Still frail, he returned to England, and to Montacute, the Somerset home of his family, where his father had been vicar for 26 years. This homecoming, which Powys first described in his remarkable book Skin for Skin (1925), was fraught with ambiguities, partly occasioned by his confirmed espousal of a neo-pagan philosophy which turned him against the religion of his forebears. Here, in Somerset, he ‘came into his own’, regaining his strength and rediscovering anew the beautiful landscape of his boyhood. This was characterised by a determination to extract joy from every passing moment. He cultivated a visionary response to Nature, relished erotic sensations, and enthusiastically indulged his friendships – especially with his brother John Cowper Powys. This ‘eternal flow of life’, as he called it, was a panacea and, through the writing of this diary, provided ‘food for future years’. Continuing and expanding the narrative account, Powys’s 1911 diary charts in candid detail his longings, his friendships, his reading, the poetry he loved and the letters he received. He writes of his walks in the countryside of south Somerset, imbibing at inns, encountering wayfarers, luxuriating in the natural world – and all this in one of the glorious summers of the twentieth century, when temperatures famously reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In the words of Siegfried Sassoon, it seemed to all ‘a summer of commingled happiness’. But 1911 was also a year of dramatic social and political upheavals that were changing the age-old ways of life, rendering the experience of this year a kind of ‘timeless moment’ – and that is how Powys later re-imagined it in writings such as Love and Death (1939). With the insidious disease always in the background, the 1911 diary conveys vividly what it was like still to live life to the full in the last throes of Edwardian England before The Great War swept so much away.

RECALLED TO LIFE was launched at the conference in August
Within the UK: 10.00
Outside UK price: 15.00
Please send your cheque, made payable to the Powys Society, to:
Hon Secretary, Chris Thomas, at 87 Ledbury Road, London, W11 2AG

Powys Society Newsletter Number 88 (July 2016) 
powys society newsletter number 88
Editorial – Chairman’s Report – Treasurer’s Report – AGM 2016 – 2016 Conference – Recalled to Life – Obituaries – Charles Lock on Geoffrey Hill and JCP: A Tribute – Maiden Castle at Ely Meeting – Powys Day at Dorset County Museum – Notes & News – Alliance of Literary Societies – Kevin Taylor: This is Norfolk – Mike Smith: A dissertation revisited – Gift of Correspondence – Frederick Davies – A Letter to Colin Wilson – Review of Jeremy Hooker’s Scattered Light by Geoffrey Winch – Jerry Bird on JCP’s A Glastonbury Romance.
Available to all Society members.
(A digital edition of this issue is available to read on The Newsletter webpage here

The Powys Society Newsletter No. 87 (March 2016)

powys society newsletter 87 (march 2016)

Two Powys Days

Rothesay House, Dorchester
A G M, Committee Nominations
Conference 2016
Obituary: Joan Stevens
Notes & News
Gamel Woolsey Spanish Fairy Stories
T.F. Powys and Satyajit Ray
Earth Memories original cover

Phyllis Playter, Teenage Author

When David met Phyllis
‘Shakespeare’s Fairies’, by LlP
Shakespeare, by J. C. Powys
Maria Popova, ‘Brainpickings’
Earth Memories – A Response
by Anthony Head
Powyses in Patchin Place
All those Littleton Powyses

the powys society newsletter 87 (march 2016)

Selected articles

Digital editions of THE POWYS JOURNAL
A Visit to The National Library of Wales
Reminiscences  of John Cowper Powys in the late 1920s by Albert S. Krick (PDF file)
A minor, difficult masterpiece by T. F. Powys

john cowper powys, henry miller, proteus and the magician
The Letters of Henry Miller and John Cowper Powys
(click on image above)

the powys journal volume xx, the powys society
Digital version available to read online
(click on image above)

john cowper powys, dorchester wall plaque
john cowper powys, the dorset year

the life of john cowper powys

John Cowper Powys
wall plaque in High West Street,
Dorchester, Dorset
The Diary of John Cowper Powys
(June 1934 to June 1935)

the powys brothers books, the powys society

"A genius - a fearless writer, who writes with reckless passion." - Margaret Drabble on John Cowper Powys 

The one author I could not live without is John Cowper Powys.” – Bernard Cornwell

"Llewelyn Powys is one of those rare writers who teach endurance of life as well as its enjoyment." - Philip Larkin

"Theodore Powys wrote extraordinary fables of English country life. Bloomsbury admirers hailed them as the singular works of a dark and brooding genius." - P. Wright

"Theodore Powys, the brother of Llewelyn, is a rare person." - T. E. Lawrence

“I touch here upon what is to me one of the profoundest philosophical mysteries: I mean the power of the individual mind to create its own world, not in complete independence of what is called "the objective world," but in a steadily growing independence of the attitudes of the minds toward this world. For what people call the objective world is really a most fluid, flexible, malleable thing. It is like the wine of the Priestess Bacbuc in Rabelais. It tastes differently; it is a different cosmos, to every man, woman, and child. To analyse this "objective world is all very well, as long as you don't forget that the power to rebuild it by emphasis and rejection is synonymous with your being alive.” — John Cowper Powys

“Even though we waves lie for centuries in the deeps of the waters, so deeply buried that no man could think that we should ever rise, yet as all life must come to the surface again and again, awakening each time from a deep sleep as long as eternity, so we are raised up out of the deeps high above our fellows, to obey the winds, to behold the sky, to fly onwards, moving swiftly, to complete our course, break and sink once more.

  We, who are waves, know you, who are men, only as another sea, within which every living creature is a little wave that rises for a moment and then breaks and dies. Our great joy comes when we break, yours when you are born, for you have not yet reached that sublime relationship with God which gives the greatest happiness to destruction.” T.F. Powys 

 "No sight that the human eyes can look upon is more provocative of awe than is the night sky scattered thick with stars.” — Llewelyn Powys

glastonbury tor


durdle door
Glastonbury Tor
Montacute Durdle Door

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