the powys society
Glen Cavaliero

Welcome to the official website of


the powys society
Timothy Hyman

The Newsletter The Journal Society Publications
The Collection

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


Seasonal Greetings

Happy NEW YEAR Wishes to All

Two Powysian festive treats

A story and an essay to read

A CHRISTMAS GIFT by T.F. Powys here as a PDF

t f powys, the white paternoster, powys society
A Christmas Gift’ appeared in TFP's third published collection of short stories (including Fables) The White Paternoster (1930). The story subsequently featured in God’s Eyes A-Twinkle (Chatto & Windus, 1947, and Faber Finds, 2011).
Perhaps overlooked due to its seasonal theme it is regarded by many Theodorians as one of his most engaging achievements. As Michael Caines has written: “...maybe this story for Christmas is one that even a sorry secularite like me can appreciate in full.”


ERRY IS THE WORD by Llewelyn Powys
here as a PDF

christmas lore and legend yuletide essays by llewelyn powys

Merry is the Word’ originally published under the heading ‘Christmas, the Great Day of Merriment and Charity’ in the Dorset Daily Echo, 24 December 1936. Collected in CHRISTMAS LORE AND LEGEND Yuletide Essays by Llewelyn Powys (The Sundial Press, 2012) and re-titled 'Merry is the Word'.

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

December 2016 Meeting

T.F. Powys & Liam O'Flaherty

t f powys & liam o’flaherty, theodore powys, powys society
On Saturday 3 December at the Friends Meeting House, 120 Heath Street, Hampstead, NW3 1DR (300 yards from Hampstead underground station on the Northern line). 2pm for 2.30 start. Everyone is welcome.

Pat Quigley will present a talk on the relationship between T.F. Powys, the Irish writer Liam O’Flaherty, (1896-1984), and the group of writers associated with Charles Lahr (TFP’s favourite bookseller) and David Garnett.
(Full details available on the News & Events page here.)

01 December 2016

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 so a '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




December 2016 publication
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 Society’s annual conference
12-14 August
2016 Conference 2 DVD set
now available

Llewelyn Powys Birthday Walk at East Chaldon
Celebrating the life, work and philosophy of Llewelyn Powys
Midday, 13th August 2016

Members' News

THE FLASH OF WEATHERCOCKS New and Collected Poems by Glen Cavaliero

Jacqueline Peltier’s translation of JCP’s Suspended Judgements (Judgements Réservés), with notes by the translator and an introduction by Marcella Henderson-Peal, will be available at this year’s conference Jacqueline's Powys website can be reached here.

Paul Weston has recently published Glastonbury Psychogeography (Avalon Aeon Publications, 2016) in which he discusses A Glastonbury Romance. Also available on his website is the film THE DAEMONIC GENIUS OF JOHN COWPER POWYS which he delivered at the Society’s 2010 conference in Street.

New August 2016 publication
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

Annual Conference


This year's speakers

Paul Cheshire appears at a Powys Society conference for the first time and will take us deep into A Glastonbury Romance to explore JCP’s personal 'strange' philosophical ideas about the psychic-sensuous margins of life. Peter Foss will give a talk, illustrated with slides, on the background to Llewelyn’s 1911 diary, Recalled to Life, discussing his recovery in England, convalescence and relapse into illness again.  (A strange, or at least unusual, life). Novelist Lindsay Clarke also appears at a Powys Society conference for the first time. His talk on Porius, JCP’s imaginative vision and multiversal consciousness, draws on insights from recent advances in archetypal psychology and current ecological thinking. We are especially pleased to welcome back Angelika Reichmann from Hungary, who will give a talk on the previously unexplored, possibly strange, affinities between Wolf Solent and Lucky Jim.

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

Two POWYS Days

ELY, Saturday 23 April
Maiden Castle by John Cowper Powys

DORCHESTER, Saturday 16 July
T.F. POWYS’s Religious and Metaphysical ideas

Sonia Lewis will lead a discussion of Maiden Castle, Chapter 5, 'The Scummy Pond', at the Old Fire Engine House, restaurant and art gallery, 25 St Mary’s Street, Ely, which is located near Ely Cathedral. We will meet in the upstairs sitting room at 10.30am for welcome and coffee. Our discussion will commence at 11.00. Lunch will be served in the restaurant from 12.00 to 13.00. The discussion will recommence in the afternoon.

john cowper powys, maiden castle

was first published in the USA in 1936 (the New York Times thought it was “bewildering because of its complete lack of movement”), and in the UK in 1937 (the TLS review said that it “moves within a realm of its own”). Our President, Glen Cavaliero, has called Maiden Castle JCP’s most “Lawrentian” novel and W.J. Keith called it “the work of a literary master” although “not a fully achieved novel”. The book was drastically cut by JCP’s American editor – “he’s a snipper not a slasher” said JCP. Maiden Castle did not appear in its original unabridged form until a new edition was published by the University of Wales Press, edited by Ian Hughes in 1990. The Daily Telegraph review of the new edition called the novel “extraordinary”. JCP began writing the story in August 1934 at Rat’s Barn, on the Dorset downs, on his return to the UK from America but he found it difficult to decide on the form the story should take. It was not until after he had moved to Dorchester on 8 October 1934 and started to rewrite the novel in January 1935 that he settled on the main setting in Dorchester itself reflecting his own daily routine and meetings with people. His working title for the Dorchester novel was now “Dud No-Man’s Girl”. Maiden Castle is particularly notable for its morbidity and obsession with death – Urien Quirm has “dead eyes”, he smells of mortality and is associated with a “corpse god”.  
Maiden Castle
is a very troubling novel much concerned with frustrated desire, tangled human relationships, the dark influence of family history and the ancient mythological past. But Maiden Castle is also remarkable for its wealth of realistic detail and especially naturalistic evocations. Chapter five begins with a portrait of Dud No Man’s domestic life in the flat he shares with Wizzie Ravelston in Friary Lane (a self portrait of JCP and Phyllis) and ends with an astonishing climactic scene on the approach to the ramparts of Maiden Castle, “the mystical city of Dunium”, where the ‘nameless bastard’s’ true identity and his relationship to the grotesque figure of Urien Quirm is revealed. In between these events JCP weaves his way leisurely examining the interrelationships of his characters, commenting on certain astrological influences – Dorchester is described as “a city under the sign of water”, and exploring the theme of the quest for identity, integrity and the search for inner meaning. There is comedy in the scene at the Antelope hotel and the literary luncheon hosted by Mr Comber. In the fully restored edition of the novel we may now also better appreciate JCP’s description of “the magic of flowers”. There is a good discussion of the significance of JCP’s description of cuckoo flowers in Chapter 5, in the scene set alongside the water meadows on the path to the blue bridge, in Harald Fawkner’s book, JCP & the Elements (Powys Press, 2015). The textual history of the novel has also been published in an article by Ian Hughes in Powys Review No.12, 1982/1983. The abandoned parts of the novel can be consulted at the Powys Collection at Exeter University and were printed in the Powys Review No. 15, 1984/1985. For an interesting personal response to the novel see W.J Keith’s article in la lettre Powysienne, No. 16, Autumn, 2008.
The Old Fire Engine House
Venue: The Old Fire Engine House (restaurant and art gallery), 25 St Mary’s Street, Ely.
Meet in the upstairs sitting room at 10.30am for welcome and coffee.
Our discussion will commence at 11.00.
Lunch will be served in the restaurant from 12.00 to 13.00. The discussion will recommence in the afternoon.

DORCHESTER, Saturday 16 July
T.F. POWYS’s Religious and Metaphysical ideas


Michael Kowalewski, the Society’s Collection Liaison Officer, will present an informal talk and lead a discussion on the theme of T.F.Powys’s religious and metaphysical ideas illustrated by an examination of passages from An Interpretation of Genesis, Father Adam and FABLES. In his talk Michael will explore TFP’s original ideas about religion, his visionary fantasies and religious symbolism, his dualist beliefs, love of the Bible, his mysticism, pantheism, and antinomianism. A.E. Waite, the occultist, in a discussion of TFP’s religious unorthodoxy, referred to his paradoxes, contradictions, as well as his reverence, sense of immanence and his ability to produce “brilliant epigrams”.

dorset county museumThe venue for the meeting is the library of the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester. Coffee and welcome is at 10.30am. The meeting will commence at 11.00. Lunch will be from 13.00 to 14.00 at a nearby restaurant.

AN INTERPRETATION OF GENESIS, written in an archaic biblical style in the form of a dialogue, was TFP’s first published work, privately printed in 1908 with the help of Louis Wilkinson and JCP, and distributed by William Rider & Son, but was also later reprinted by Chatto and Windus in 1929. On its first publication the book was favourably reviewed in Aleister Crowley’s magazine, Equinox, in March 1910, which noted the influence of the Kabbalah and dualism and stated: “This is a most mystical interpretation of the most beautiful of the books of the Old Testament... It is a little volume which one who reads will grow fond of, and will carry about with him, and open at random in quiet places, in the woods and nder the stars...”

t f powys, father adamFATHER ADAM was written in 1919 but remained unpublished during TFP’s lifetime. It did not appear until 1990 in a modern edition. In Powys Notes, Fall 1990, Anne Barbaeu Gardiner reviewed the novel and called it “a theological novel and will attract the sort of reader who would enjoy Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.”  A useful guide to the many levels of meaning and reference in Father Adam can be found in an article by L. R. Leavis, T.F.Powys in Perspective, the significance of Father Adam in the Powys Review, Nos. 29/30.

'Father Adam by T. F. Powys, edited by Ian Robinson. (The Brynmill Press Ltd, £8.40)—delightfully produced edition of Powys’s first mature tale which is a must for anyone interested in the mordant and yet sympathetically ironic vision of the English rural scene. The tragedy of innocence in the preacher of the Ten Commandments, Father Adam, looks forward to the story, “The Box of Sweets”, and the overwhelming vision of Ralph Crew, a young man who believes his calling to be “that of reforming and regenerating the people of the whole world”, is an early suggestion of Powys’s bleakly comic masterpiece, Mr Weston’s Good Wine.’ — The Use of English Vol. 54, No. 3

t f powys, fables, gilbert spencert f powys, fables, the powys societyFABLES Inanimate objects take life and animals speak in T. F. Powys’s collection of fables, which was first published in 1929: a dish-cloth and an old pan, lying on a rubbish heap, discuss the emotional intricacies of the household that has discarded them; the efforts of a determined spinster to marry off all her furniture end in tragedy; a rabbit takes advice from a viper to avenge the death of her son. Set in the Dorset countryside that also inspired TFP’s novels, these are extraordinary tales, original and surprising, as all good fables should be.

Both events are free although a charge will be made for lunch which is optional. We welcome contributions towards the costs of coffee and refreshments. Everyone is welcome to attend including non members.

If you wish to attend the meetings please notify Hon. Secretary, Chris Thomas, either by e-mail at or by post at 87 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AG.

The Powys Society Conference, 2016

The Wessex Hotel, Street, nr Glastonbury

Friday 12th August to Sunday 14th August

Strange Matters

the powys society

Including guest speakers Angelika Reichmann, Paul Cheshire and Peter Foss. Also, novelist Lindsay Clarke (The Chymical Wedding), who will present a talk on JCP's Porius, and Frank Wintle who will introduce the screening of a documentary film he made in 1986 for South West TV about the complicated relationship between Frances Gregg (JCP’s greatest love before he met Phyllis Playter), the poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Ezra Pound, Louis Wilkinson and JCP, including the discovery, in strange circumstances, of Pound’s original manuscript of poems dedicated to H.D. (written to H.D. in the romantic manner of Swinburne, William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1905 before he began experimenting with modernism).
Full Conference details 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)

  September 2015

  From The Powys Press:

A Phenomenological Study of Maiden Castle

H.W. Fawkner John Cowper Powys and the Elements:  
In this study of Maiden Castle, H.W. Fawkner discusses the elements—but in a way new to Powys criticism and indeed to element-theory. In a move that aligns itself with the ongoing shift from postmodernism to speculative realism, Fawkner highlights the Powysian emphasis on elements as a mechanism that invalidates the tradition of taking the human being as ultimate standard of reference. In Maiden Castle, No-man’s name points to this devolution. The futility of self-centredness is inscribed in his identity as a void into which self-glory perpetually plummets—but also as a gateway for release into the elemental surprises of the real. Space is uncovered as a field in which each element is a dwelling for anything existing under the authority of its sphere. Here each being has an elemental essence surpassing all possible relations to it. Objects and people are not defined by relations but by the style and feel of the element in which they are imbued.

Freed from connectivity, an object, colour, or landscape is perceivable in stand-alone fashion as something almost surreally real. Powys is hooked on the rumbling, ghostly, or unobtrusive intensity of this reality-factor, all relations and connections being subservient to it. To read Maiden Castle as a celebration of the elements is accordingly to confront the fact that every primordial component of the world is somehow absolutely real prior to its being-related. Each item of reality, whether living or inanimate, sports the secret of an intrinsic reality that is hidden from the rush of the world’. To see things and beings non-relationally is to see elementally. That seeing is complex—and no one understood that complexity more profoundly and vividly than John Cowper Powys.

ISBN 9781874559504 ~ £10.00

The Ordinary and the Short Story: Short Fiction of T.F. Powys and V.S. Pritchett
The Ordinary and the Short Story: Short Fiction of T.F. Powys and V.S. Pritchett
by Milosz Wojtyna
This formalist-narratological study of T F Powys' and V S Pritchett's short fiction re-establishes both authors as important contributors to the history of the short story form. It also discusses how writers, who did not belong to the modernist avant-garde innovation, address the problems of the short story form in the twentieth century. The study takes a close look at the uses of the ordinary and analyses character, setting, and event presentation, narrators, audiences, narrativity, eventfulness, causality, and narrative rhetoric. It presents two kinds of short fiction and two kinds of the ordinary: the ecstatic one, focused on violations of norm, and the static kind that reassures its patterns.

Contents: The ordinary in literature – The short story – Non-canonical short fiction writers – Modernism and the canon – Formalism – The rhetoric of narrative, narrativity, eventfulness, character presentation, causality – Social realism – Polemics with realism – Stasis-ekstasis as an organizing principle of narrative.

Hardcover: 230 pages
September 2015
ISBN-13: 978-3631662267

llewelyn powys diary 1910

Edited by Peter J. FOSS

Like Katherine Mansfield’s journal from the same period, Llewelyn Powys’s diary is a major record from inside the consumptive experience and adds significantly to our understanding of the ordeal of this deadly and durable disease in the first half of the twentieth century.

The Powys Press ISBN 9781874559481

  A new version


‘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.’  From JOHN GRAY's Introduction

Earth Memories opens with an essay called “A Struggle for Life”, that describes the course of his consumption, and how Kenya was good for his health, despite its hardships. Back in England, Powys invests in a “revolving shelter” and puts it in a hermit’s spot near Weymouth. “In the early mornings I would wake to look upon a small still bay with rocks and rippling pools. Little hedge birds would begin to twitter on the grey stone wall near the empty nettle-filled well, while over a restless sea, behind the outline of a cornfield, black hungry cormorants would follow each other on their way to their distant feeding places.” Occasionally puffed up with Augustan effort, prone to grandiloquent if often charming quirks, Powys’s prose falls easily into this manner of general description, as it hops from phrase to descriptive phrase.”

An extract from The TLS review (August 20th, 2015) by Michael Caines.

Both THE CONQUERING WORM and the new version of EARTH MEMORIES were reviewed in The TLS by Michael Caines.

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

"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

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

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

“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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