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Llewellyn Powys Dorset Essays On Music


Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939)

'A Philosophical Poet'


"No sight that the human eyes can look upon is more provocative of awe than is the night sky scattered thick with stars. But this silence made visible, this silence made audible, does not necessarily give rise to a religious mood. It may evoke a mood that neither requires nor postulates a God. On frosty January nights when I walk over the downs I feel myself to be passing through a lofty heathen temple, a temple without devil-affrighting steeple bells, without altars of stone or altars of wood. Constellation beyond constellation, the unaltering white splash of the Milky Way, and no sign of benison, no sign of bane, only the homely hedgerow shadows and the earth's resigned stillness outstretched under the unparticipating splendour of a physical absolute."


Llewelyn Powys was born in Dorchester, Dorset, spent his childhood at Montacute, Somerset, and as an adult lived for varying periods in Kenya, the United States, Dorset and Switzerland. His twenty-six books include a novel, Apples be Ripe, a biography, Henry Hudson, essays descriptive and polemical, memoirs and reminiscences. Of all the Powys brothers, Llewelyn was recognized as the most cheerful, the most at ease with existence: the only one for whom a title such as Glory of Life could hold not a shadow of the ironic. Llewelyn's epicurean philosophy is intimately related to the tuberculosis with which he struggled for thirty years.


Among Llewelyn's best books are Black Laughter, about life in Africa, Skin for Skin, a memoir of his first attack of tuberculosis and residence in a Swiss sanatorium, Impassioned Clay, a statement of his philosophical outlook, the essays collected in Earth Memories, Dorset Essays, Somerset Essays and Swiss Essays, and the fictionalized autobiography Love and Death. In their blend of the descriptive, the reminiscent, and the polemical, Llewelyn's best writings have retained both their urgency of appeal and their charm of evocation.

Malcolm Elwin, his first biographer, described Llewelyn Powys as 'a philosophical poet relating the pleasures of his senses in the purest prose of his time'.

Major Works of Llewelyn Powys


Ebony and Ivory (1923)

Thirteen Worthies (1923)

Black Laughter (1924)

Skin for Skin (1925)

The Verdict of Bridlegoose (1926)

Henry Hudson (1927)

The Cradle of God (1929)

The Pathetic Fallacy (1930)

Apples Be Ripe (1930)

A Pagan�s Pilgrimage (1931)

Impassioned Clay (1931)

Glory of Life (1934)

Earth Memories (1934)

Damnable Opinions (1935)

Dorset Essays (1935)

The Twelve Months (1936)

Rats in the Sacristy (1937)

Somerset Essays (1937)

Love and Death (1939)

A Baker�s Dozen (1939)

 Swiss Essays (1947)

Llewelyn Powys in New York, 1928. Photo by Doris Ulmann 

(Courtesy of Stephen Powys Marks)

Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939), novelist and essayist, was born at Dorchester, Dorset, on 13 August 1884, and educated at Sherborne School, 1899-1903, and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 1903-1906. He was a stock farmer in Kenya, 1914-1919, and a journalist in New York City, 1920-1925. After marrying Alyse Gregory (1884-1967) in 1924, Powys travelled with his wife, paying visits to Palestine (1928), West Indies (1930) and Switzerland (1937). He died in Switzerland on 2 December 1939.

Recent Llewelyn Powys publications


All four titles in paperback format at �9.99 excepting Christmas Lore and Legend at �6.99.

Additionally, three booklets of diaries published by Cecil Woolf and edited by Peter Foss, and the same author�s Bibliography of Llewelyn Powys. All are currently in print.

Peter Foss will give a talk at this year's Powys Society Conference on Llewelyn's diary for 1910.



read by Chris Wilkinson (7 mins 41 secs)

Please click on the icon below to hear Chris Wilkinson read an essay from Dorset Essays reprinted in Durdle Door to Dartmoor(The Sundial Press)

[ Please allow a few seconds for buffering, depending on your connection speed]

 The Dandelion Fellowship


Celebrating the life, work and philosophy of Llewelyn Powys (1884-1939)

The Friends of Llewelyn Powys congregate each August 13th for the annual gathering at the Sailor�s Return in East Chaldon, Dorset at 12 noon � all welcome.

After lunch those assembled walk from Chaldon up to the coastal path on top of Chaldon Down and wild flowers are laid on Llewelyn Powys� Memorial Stone, a toast is drunk to his memory and several passages from Llewelyn's books are read. This year the Birthday Walk celebrates its 20th anniversary.

A few copies of The Dandelion FellowshipNewsletter are still available

For further information please contact Neil Lee: atkin.neil@sky.com


  New gallery being created  


The Diary of a Reluctant Teacher:
 Llewelyn Powys's Diary for 1908

Edited with an Introduction

by Peter J. Foss



Llewelyn Powys


From The Book of Days

Llewelyn Powys


Llewelyn Powys (13 August 1884 – 2 December 1939) was a British essayist, novelist and younger brother of John Cowper Powys and T. F. Powys.


Powys was born in Dorchester, the son of the Reverend Charles Francis Powys (1843–1923), who was vicar of Montacute, Somerset for thirty-two years, and Mary Cowper Johnson, a descendant of the poet William Cowper. He came from a family of eleven children, many of whom were also talented. Two brothers John Cowper Powys and Theodore Francis Powys were also well-known writers, while his sister Philippa published a novel and some poetry. Another sister Marian Powys was an authority on lace and lace-making and published a book on this subject. His brother A. R. Powys was Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and published a number of books on architectural subjects.

He was educated at Sherborne School 1899-1903 and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge 1903-1906. While lecturing in the United States he contracted tuberculosis. After his return in 1909, he travelled again, living for a while in Switzerland. His time spent in Africa, farming with his brother William near Gilgil in British East Africa (now in Kenya) from 1914 to 1919.

In 1920 he went again to America to work as a journalist. While living in New York City he met and married, in 1924, the novelist Alyse Gregory (1884-1967), editor of the journal The Dial. In 1925 the couple moved to Dorset: firstly to the Coastguard Cottages on White Nothe and then to nearby farmhouse Chydyok, where his two sisters, the poet and novelist, Philippa Powys, and the artist, Gertrude Powys, occupied the adjacent cottage. This was close to village of East Chaldon where his brother, the author Theodore Powys, lived from 1904 until 1940. Various other writers and artists lived in the village at different times, such as Sylvia Townsend Warner and David Garnett, the poets Valentine Ackland and Gamel Woolsey, and the sculptors Elizabeth Muntz and Stephen Tomlin.

Gamel Woolsey met John Cowper Powys when she lived in Patchin Place, Greenwich Village, and, through him, his brother Llewelyn and his wife, Alyse Gregory. She and Alyse became friends for life, while with Llewelyn she had a passionate and painful love affair.[1] She left New York for England in 1929, settling in Dorset to be near Llewelyn, where she came to know the whole Powys family and their circle. Parting from Llewelyn in 1930, she married the historian and writer Gerald Brenan in a private ceremony, and they lived together, mainly in Spain, until her death.[2]

Powys traveled with his wife, paying visits to Mandatory Palestine (1928), the West Indies (1930) and Switzerland (1937). He died in Clavadel, Switzerland from complications related to an ulcer.[3]

His writings include a novel, Apples Be Ripe (1930), and a biography of Henry Hudson (1927). He was very friendly with Hamilton Rivers Pollock, Barrister, owner from 1928, of Urchfont Manor.


Powys identified as a rationalist and wrote articles critical of religion in freethought journals such as the Rationalist Annual and The Literary Guide.[4]

He was an atheist.[5]



  • Confessions of Two Brothers (1916)
  • Ebony and Ivory (1923) short stories, sketches
  • Thirteen Worthies (1923) essays
  • Honey and Gall (1924) autobiography
  • Black Laughter (1925)
  • Cup-Bearers of Wine and Hellebore (1924)
  • Skin for Skin (1925) autobiography
  • The Verdict of Bridlegoose (1926)
  • Henry Hudson (1927)
  • Out of the Past (1928)
  • The Cradle of God (1929)
  • The Pathetic Fallacy (1930)
  • An Hour on Christianity (1930)
  • Apples Be Ripe (1930)
  • A Pagan's Pilgrimage (1931)
  • Impassioned Clay (1931)
  • The Life and Times of Anthony à Wood (1932)
  • Now That The Gods Are Dead (1932)
  • Glory of Life (1934)
  • Earth Memories (1935)
  • Damnable Opinions (1935)
  • Dorset Essays (1935)
  • The Twelve Months (1936)
  • How I Became and why I Remain a Rationalist (1937)
  • Somerset Essays (1937)
  • Rats in the Sacristy (1937)
  • The Book of Days (1937)
  • Love and Death (1939)
  • A Baker's Dozen (1940)
  • Old English Yuletide (1940)
  • The Letters of Llewelyn Powys (1943) edited by Louis Wilkinson
  • Swiss Essays (1947)
  • Advice to a Young Man (1949)
  • Llewelyn Powys: A Selection (1952) edited by Kenneth Hopkins

Critical studies[edit]

  • Elwin, Malcolm (1946), The Life of Llewelyn Powys
  • Graves, Richard Percival, The Powys Brothers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984)
  • Ward, Richard Heron (1936), The Powys Brothers
  • Peter J. Foss (2007), A Bibliography of Llewelyn Powys
  • Wilkinson, Louis (1943), The Letters of Llewelyn Powys


External links[edit]

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