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(Reprinted by Faber Finds)
The Life of
John Cowper Powys
The Brothers Powys
by Richard Powys Graves
Contact the Society here
The Powys Society's Newsletter is published thrice yearly (March, July and November) and is packed with news, information, reviews, details of forthcoming publications and events, previously unpublished Powys letters, extracts from Powys journals and much more besides. A delightful range of photographs, book jacket images and illustrations embellish its pages. Edited by Kate Kavanagh who is always pleased to receive news and short articles. You can contact her here.
Newsletter Editorial No. 70
Street may seem the more homely brother to Glastonbury (always referred to as She) but has its own interest. A 12th century causeway (strata, paved road -- a Roman road is nearby) was made to transport Blue Lias fossil-filled limestone from its quarries, to repair Glastonbury Abbey after a fire. The town's badge is an ichthyosaurus. St Gildas Sapiens, a historian (c.500-570), may have resided in an oratory here. One Life of St Gildas connects him with Brittany, Rome and Ravenna, another with north Wales, Ireland and Glastonbury. Gildas appears in versions of King Arthur tales, and is the patron of bell founders and Welsh historians. Later associations for Street are with the Society of Friends (Quakers) who started the Clarks sheepskin and footwear business -- their factory now turned into a "Factory Outlet" market. As for Glaston herself, Bill Keith's book is an excellent introduction to the facts of the fiction.
T. F Powys, whose extraordinary Soliloquies of a Hermit takes up a good deal of space in this Newsletter, famously connects metaphysics and the fabulous with homely detail -- the string he mends his fence with, the cast-iron flowers decorating his fireplace. John Cowper, equally famously, mythologises the ordinary, not least in his letters. Those to Violet over the years must have given some pleasure (pace Theodora -- though the threat of being pounced on by an over-brotherly JCP must have been disturbing). Those to Littleton in their old age, three or four words to a line, come to resemble free verse. Why do we write letters, apart from conveying information? "To promote kindness" perhaps, as Dr Johnson said about small-talk at dinner parties.
It is good news that the committee has once again rearranged itself amicably. John Hodgson has been a lovely chairman, calm and practical, and always interesting. He and Chris Thomas, a mine of information and internet-expertise, have been endlessly helpful and patient with this often scatterbrained Editor, for which much thanks.
Two puzzles. Can anyone identify (1) the emblem badge described by TFP (in 1916): "Just now I wear a badge of an order of Socialism [...] I looked at my badge and wondered what it meant by having an arrow, the sun and the world upon it." (Soliloquies p.11)
(2) the epigraph to Anthony O'Hear's Great Books: 'To read great books does not mean one becomes 'bookish'; it means that something of the terrible insight of Dostoyevsky, of the richly-charged imagination of Shakespeare, of the luminous wisdom of Goethe, actually passes into the personality of the reader...'
Among the highlights of the 44 page March 2010 issue of The Powys Society Newsletter (No.69): Two Powys Days; full details of this year's forthcoming Conference and its speakers; further letters between T. F. Powys and Lady Ottoline Morrell; Hardy Society Invitation; Margaret to JCP letters; 'The Catholic'; JCP - 'In Memoriam, George Tyrrell'; 'The stone God of Phudd' - Patrick Quigley goes on a literary pilgrimage; James Douglas Battles with An Atheist; How an artist used John Cowper Powys; ... and more!
Among the highlights of the 48 page November 2009 issue of The Powys Society Newsletter (No.68): 'Lucifer, Keats and Paganism'; JCP's Preface to Lucifer; 'Drinks, drugs and defiance in the novels of John Cowper Powys' by Tim Blanchard, Letters between T. F. Powys and Lady Ottoline Morrell; a report on this year's Conference by Kate Kavanagh; 'Conference Walks' by Chris Thomas; an account of the 'Llewelyn Walk: 125th Anniversary' by Chris Gostick; an essay by Llewelyn Powys and 'A Letter from England' by Alyse Gregory.
Among the highlights of the 52 page July 2009 issue of The Powys Society Newsletter (No.67), are articles on Powys and Sufism, John Cowper Powys in Los Angeles, the aristocrat and poet Alfred de Kantzow, letters from Peter Powys Grey (only son of Marian Powys) to Mary (his cousin) and Gerard Casey, two letters from JCP to his great-nephew Stephen Powys Marks, labyrinths, poems, reports and 'The Greatest Novelist in the World'.
Langollen beckons again from its dim violet valley (see the verse on page 8, translated by our former Chairman's grandfather). Cloudless or Cimmerian this tme? A selection of Porius-themed walks is planned, and talks ranging from Dostoievsky to Tea.
The Newsletter brings one into interesting paths: our cover picture having led to he sympathetic biography of Ottoline Morrell by Miranda Seymour, Lady O's Bloomsbury caricature is now replaced by a charming eccentric sympathetic & generous woman, whose extravagant self-created persona, part actress part cultural missionary, really did help and inspire two generations of creative artists. TFP would seem the world's least likely person to be persuaded to visit her bohemian country-house salon at Garsington, but OM clearly recognised his wisdom and integrity. She may well have yearned for a friend who would have sympathised with her unconventional religious feelings - and who could be relied on not to gossip maliciously behind tier back. We hope to see their letters one day.
Llewelyn's famous charm is nowhere more evident than in flirtatious letters like those to Naomi Mitchison. JCP appears in different aspects: as philosophical anarchist through most of his life; in Corwen after the War ('deep as a Welsh pool', as Stevie Smith described him); and twenty years earlier as journalist in America, producing what must have been a quickly-written tribute after the death of Hardy, craftily tailored to a magazine of history. On the technical side we have interesting insights into the realm of Digitization, and names given to the exotic machines which we see carrying the young Phyllis with her little Playter niece - ending with letters from Phyllis to this niece in later life. (Kate Kavanagh)
AGM notice, Committee Nominations and Conference Programme
Engravings for Uncle Dottery
The Powys Society Collection
Olden Llangollen: Two views
Obituaries: Janet Pollock (Stephen Powys Marks, Glen Cavaliero, Peter J. Foss, Frank Warren)
A Silent Place
T.F.Powys and Lady Ottoline Morrell
T.F.Powys to Elizabeth Wade White
'On Chaldon Down', R. B. Russell
Llewelyn Powys to Naomi Mitchison
Notes and Letters
'Obstinate Cymric' Discussion meeting, Nov 29th
A Sense of Direction
Bela Hamvas and John Cowper Powys
John Cowper Powys, Anarchism & Max Stirner
'Thomas Hardy & his Times', by John Cowper Powys
An Elephant in the Library
You can also view the useful NEWSLETTER FINDING AID compiled by Stephen Powys Marks by visiting the page here.
The small selection of articles from Newsletters below is currently being updated and expanded so do check back.
John Cowper Powys: On writing 'A Glastonbury Romance'
Llewelyn Powys: The Religion of Poetry
Louis Wilkinson on Llewelyn Powys
David Gervais: T.F. Powys's 'Fables'
Glen Cavaliero: Revisiting JCP: Novelist (1973)
Theodora Scutt: Uncle Littleton (Littleton Powys)
Cicely Hill reviews 'The Blackthorn Winter' by Philippa Powys
John Cowper Powys: The Magic of Detachment
John Williams reviews 'Selected Early Works of T.F. Powys'
Rafael Squirru: The Ichthyian Leap – or the duty of happiness
Kate Kavanagh revisits 'After My Fashion'
John Williams: A lecture on T.F. Powys
Glen Cavaliero: Llewelyn Powys's Diary for 1908
Marko Gregorić: Impressions (Conference 2007)
Will Durant: Adventures in Genius
Cicely Hill: 'The Ridge' and the Other
Chris Gostick on Llewelyn’s Birthday Meeting 2008
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