the powys society
Glen Cavaliero

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Timothy Hyman

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llewelyn powys diary 1910

John Cowper Powys
T. F. Powys
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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

  Just published: 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)

'Strange Matters'
Annual Conference

Two POWYS Days

ELY, Saturday 23 April
Maiden Castle by John Cowper Powys

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 other works by TFP. 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

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, Booking Form, here


powys notes spring  1999, john cowper powys, the popwys society

A number of back copies are available from the Powys Society of POWYS NOTES; the semi-annual publication of the Powys Society of North America which appeared between 1985 and 2000 under the editorial control of Denis Lane, Richard Maxwell and Nicholas Birns.

Please contact Hon. Secretary, by e-mail, at , or write to Hon Secretary at 87 Ledbury Road, London, W11 2AG, for details of availability and costs including postage.

A list of issues including titles of articles is also available. These issues of Powys Notes have been kindly donated to the Society by Katie Trumpener, wife of Richard Maxwell (1948-2010), who was also past editor of the Powys Journal. Please see Richard’s obituary by Charles Lock in PS NL No.71, November 2010.
For a list of contents of available issues, please click here.

  September 2015

  Fresh 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 1910LLEWELYN POWYS: A CONSUMPTIVE'S DIARY, 1910Llewelyn Powys by Reginald Marsh
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 Details here


A new version
earth memories
‘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

Michael Caines reviews THE CONQUERING WORM and the new version of EARTH MEMORIES in The TLS

 Four DVD set of the Conference (6 hours 23 minutes) of the 2015 Powys conference Signs and Wonders now available to purchase at 8.00 from:Raymond Cox, 4 Lulworth Close, Halesowen, B63 2UJ
(Please make cheques to R.E.Cox not The Powys Society)

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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