Collection RC0182 - Powys family collection

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Powys family collection

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  • 1916-2003 (Creation)

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Physical description

1.25 m of textual records.

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Biographical history

The brothers John Cowper Powys, Theodore Francis Powys and Llewelyn Powys were members of a family of eleven children born to the Reverend C.F. Powys, an Anglican clergyman and vicar of Montacute, and his wife Mary-Cowper Johnson, a descendant of the poet William Cowper.

John Cowper Powys was born on 8 October 1872 in Shirley, Derbyshire. He was a novelist, essayist, poet and lecturer. He attended Corpus Christi College (M.A.) and was awarded an honorary doctor of letters from the University of Wales. He was a lecturer in England and United States, spending nearly thirty years there, mostly based in New York city. He married Margaret Alice Lyon in 1896 and had one son. He published the novels Wolf Solent (1929), A Glastonbury Romance (1932), and Owen Glendower (1940). His essays include The Meaning of Culture (1930), The Pleasures of Literature (1938), and The Art of Growing Old (1943). He died on 17 June 1963 in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Merionieth, Wales.

T.F. Powys was born on 20 December 1875, in Shirley, Derbyshire. He attended Dorchester Grammar School. He was a farmer and ran his own farm, White House Farm at Suffolk, before “retiring” to Dorset to write. A man who rarely left home or travelled in a car, he married Violet Dodds in 1905 and had three children. From 1904-1940 he settled in the village of East Chaldon and wrote novels short stories and essays. His works, such as Black Irony (1923) and Mr. Weston’s Good Wine (1927), are set in Dorset. He also wrote a number of short stories and fables. T.F. Powys died on 27 November 1953.

Llewelyn Powys was born at Rothesay House, South Walks, Dorchester on 13 August 1884 and spent his childhood in Montacute, Somerset. As an adult he lived for periods in Kenya, the United States, Dorset and Switzerland. He wrote 26 books, amongst them Black Laughter about life in Africa, Skin for Skin, a memoir of his residence in a Swiss sanatorium for tuberculosis, and Impassioned Clay, a statement of his philosophical outlook. He died in 1939.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The collection consists of two accruals. The first accrual consists of correspondence and publications by the brothers as well as publications about them. The accrual has been arranged into the following series: John Cowper Powys; Theodore Francis Powys; Llewelyn Powys; Writings by A.R. Powys; Writings about the Powys family and their works; Periodicals. The second accrual consists of two items, an autograph letter and postcard written by Llewelyn Powys.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The first accrual (39-2005) was acquired in January 2005 from Peter Bassnett of Toronto. It was separated from a large book collection (approximately 500 items) devoted to the Powys’ brothers. These books will be catalogued for Research Collections. The second accrual (19-2006) was acquired from Julian Nangle, Bookseller in May 2006 .


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