The Powys Society Conference
The Hand Hotel, Llangollen
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th August 2019
‘ADVENTURES WITH IDEAS’
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Powys Society. It is fitting that, in this anniversary year, we return to a favourite and, by now familiar, venue, the Hand Hotel, in Llangollen, surrounded by the sacred water of the river Dee and the craggy ruins of Castell the Dinas Bran. For the adventurous there are plenty of places, further afield, worth exploring such as Valle Crucis, the steep sided valley of Edeyrnion, Glyndyfrdwy, Corwen and Caer
Drewyn, Llangar church, Rug chapel, Chirk castle, and Thomas Telford’s Grade 1 listed aqueduct (now a world heritage site) with its startling vertiginous views of Afon Dyfrdwy and the Dee valley far below. Nearby Llantysilio mountain, the Berwyns and Clwydian range provide exciting opportunities for walks on lofty hilltops, amidst purple heather moorland from where you may, if lucky, spot merlins, and golden plovers. Here there are also rocky limestone outcrops, ancient woodlands and forests where elm, hazel, and oak grow thickly and where there are wild plants such as rockrose, thyme and St John’s Wort.
Other adventures, of the mind, will be offered by our speakers. We are
pleased to welcome Janice Gregory as a speaker to our conference. Janice
has been a regular visitor from USA since 2011 and has already tantalised us
with tales of her connections with her great aunt Alyse. Janice will present a
talk on the life and family background of Alyse bringing forward many new facts
and information about her relationship with Llewelyn and Alyse’s life after
Llewelyn’s death. We are also delighted to welcome back to a Powys Society
conference, Professor Elmar Schenkel, who teaches English literature at
the University of Leipzig. Elmar has been a friend of the Society since our
early days and first published an article about JCP in Germany in the Powys
Review No.4, in 1978. Elmar will present a talk on the connections between
JCP and the philosophy of Nietzsche and will also talk about his recent work as
a warden at the Nietzsche birthplace museum in Röcken in Saxony. The
relationship between JCP and Nietzsche is close (JCP was introduced to
Nietzsche by his brother Theodore and both were amongst Nietzsche’s first
readers in English in the 1890s). Nietzsche’s influence on JCP may be detected
in the themes explored in some of his early poetry as well as his first novel Wood
and Stone. It is not difficult to imagine JCP finding an affinity with
Nietzsche’s description of his role as a thinker and writer: we free
spirits … and adventurers of the inner world called “man”. Chris Campbell will
offer a “cross-cultural reading” of the prose of JCP
and the poetry of the Barbadian author Kamau Brathwaite focusing on differing
responses to the landscape of the west country of England in JCP’s Weymouth
Sands and the Caribbean in Brathwaite’s poetry. Goulven le Brech,
who comes to the conference from France, will consider JCP’s contribution to
the important series of Little Blue Books published by the social
reformer, author and editor, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius in America in the 1920s.
These short, inexpensive, and mass produced, pocket books, covering a broad
range of subjects, provided JCP with an opportunity to present his ideas about
his philosophy of life to a wide and popular readership. Other works in the
series included titles by JCP’s friend Will Durant who later included a
passionate tribute to JCP in his book Adventures in Genius. David
Goodway has strong memories of early meetings and discussions in the 1960s
that led to the formal foundation of the Society. David will talk about his
memories, the early days of the Powys Society and some of the people involved in setting up and running the Society On Saturday night Richard Graves will present a lecture entitled
‘John Cowper Powys and Merlin’ in what he describes as “the proper Powysian
See full details of our speakers.
Local Corwen officials have been invited to the reception on Friday night. The Chairman will make a special presentation of items, including books,
Society publications, photos, newspaper clippings, and copies of letters
relating to the period JCP and Phyllis lived at Corwen all of which will be
permanently placed in the Corwen information centre and museum for reference and use by visitors.
The Llangollen steam railway now runs direct
from Llangollen into the centre of Corwen (journey time about 40 minutes) where
a new railway station has been constructed providing access to Corwen
Interchange and other local transport links. The journey by rail from
Llangollen to Corwen along the picturesque Dee valley, often used by JCP and
Phyllis, was described by JCP in his unfinished novel Edeyrnion
(published in PJ, Vol. 1, 1991). This would make an enjoyable trip on
our free afternoon on Saturday. Guests are recommended to book for this service
individually in advance at Llangollen station. Suggestions and helpful
information about visits to other places of interest will be provided at the
The book room will be open, as usual, at selected times. This
year we expect an even larger number of donated titles to be available for purchase.
If anyone has any books they wish to donate please bring them along to the
sale. All donations are very much appreciated.
Hon. Sec. Chris Thomas
Friday 16th August
20.00 Janice Gregory: ‘Alyse Gregory – Out of the Shadows’
Saturday 17th August
09.30 Elmar Schenkel: 'Saving
the Übermensch: Some Observations on J. C. Powys and Friedrich Nietzsche'
11.15 Chris Campbell: ‘Excavating
and Extracting: The archaeology and aesthetics of historical memory in the
novels of John Cowper Powys and poetry of Kamau Brathwaite’
free – recommended journey by steam railway from Llangollen to Corwen
20.30 Richard Graves: A lecture on ‘John Cowper Powys and
Sunday 18th August
09.30 Goulven le Brech: ‘The Philosophy of The Little Blue Books’
12.00 David Goodway: ‘The foundation and early days of the Powys Society’
AGM of the Society will take place at 11 am on Sunday 18th August 2019 in the Denbigh Suite, The Hand Hotel, Llangollen.
All members are invited to attend, whether or not they are taking part in the Conference.
BOOKING A PLACE AT THE CONFERENCE
Please print out and complete the Booking Form and post it to Anna Rosic, 23 Linden Road,
Gloucester, GL1 5HB with your cheque payable to The Powys Society (£30 deposit per person, or full fee).
Send Anna Rosic firstname.lastname@example.org a scan/photo of your completed form, OR include in an email the following information:
- name(s), address, tel, email.
- Choice of: full conference / 24-hr Friday night / 24-hr Saturday night / one or more
- Whether you have special dietary requirements, or need an accessible room.
Paying online by PayPal/credit card:
after emailing your booking form please select a payment
Note that reductions on these rates are available for those who are financially constrained - e.g. students. Please contact the organisers for details.
Above: Conference organisers Anna Rosic and
Louise de Bruin
will be happy to answer members' questions.
If you are not yet a member you may like to consider
joining the Society.