Past Conferences: 2019

the hand hotel, llangollen

Adventures with Ideas

The Conference was held from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 August 2019 at the Hand Hotel, Llangollen

Conference Prospectus

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.

Janice Gregory
Janice Gregory

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.

Marcella Henderson-Peal and the Peltiers
Marcella Henderson-Peal and the Peltiers

Unfortunately, our scheduled speaker Elmar Schenkel has suffered a health condition that makes him unable to attend the conference. We wish him a full recovery. In place of his lecture we will have a tribute to Jacqueline Peltier, founder and editor of la lettre powysienne, who died on 24 July.

Chris Campbell
Chris Campbell

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
Goulven le Brech

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
David Goodway

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.

Richard Graves
Richard Graves

On Saturday night Richard Graves will present a lecture entitled ‘John Cowper Powys and Merlin’ in what he describes as “the proper Powysian manner.”

See full details of our speakers.

Further details

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 registration desk.

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

16.00   Arrival
17.30   Reception
18.30   Dinner
20.00   Janice Gregory: ‘Alyse Gregory – Out of the Shadows’

Saturday 17th August

08.00   Breakfast
09.30  Marcella Henderson-Peal and Charles Lock: In honour of Jacqueline Peltier, founder and editor of la lettre powysienne: tributes and a celebration
10.45   Coffee
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’
13.00   Lunch
           Afternoon free – recommended journey by steam railway from Llangollen to Corwen
19.00   Dinner
20.30   Richard Graves: A lecture on ‘John Cowper Powys and Merlin’

Sunday 18th August

08.00   Breakfast
09.30   Goulven le Brech: ‘The Philosophy of The Little Blue Books
10.45   Coffee
11.00   AGM
12.00   David Goodway: ‘The foundation and early days of the Powys Society’
13.00   Lunch
15.00   Departure

The 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.

Conference photos

The conference reception
“The secret thoughts of her guests rose and floated, hovered and wavered, formed and re-formed, under those glittering candelabra, making as it were a second party, a gathering of thought-shapes, that would remain when all these people had left the room” — A Glastonbury Romance p.500
Anna Rosic Louise De Bruin
Anna Rosic and Louise De Bruin
Hilary at Valle Crucis
Hilary Bedder at Valle Crucis
Outside Cae Coed
Outside JCP‘s Corwen home: (L-R) Tina Sentance, Joe Sentance, Marcel Bradbury, Kevin Taylor, Pat Quigley
Valle Crucis
Valle Crucis: Hilary Bedder, Ben Thompson and Taliesin Gore
Anna Rosic & Louise de Bruin (Conference organisers)
Conference organisers Anna Rosic and Louise de Bruin.