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LLEWELYN POWYS

llewelyn powys , author, essayist, powys brothers, powys family

Llewelyn Powys (1884 – 1939) was born in Dorchester, Dorset. A year later the family moved to the village of Montacute in Somerset where his father, the Rev. Charles Francis Powys, became rector and remained so for thirty three years. Powys was educated at Sherborne School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and then spent several years in Switzerland, Africa and the USA where he eventually established his career as a writer. While living in New York he met and married the novelist, Alyse Gregory, who was managing editor of the prestigious Dial magazine. In 1925 the couple moved to Dorset: firstly to the Coastguard Cottages on White Nore and then a short distance to Chydyok; an isolated farmhouse where his two sisters, the poet and novelist, Philippa Powys, and the artist, Gertrude Powys, occupied the adjacent cottage. A couple of miles to the south lay the valley village of East Chaldon where his brother, Theodore Powys, the author of novels, stories and fables, lived as well as the writers Sylvia Townsend Warner and David Garnett, the poets Valentine Ackland and Gamel Woolsey, and the sculptors Elizabeth Muntz and Stephen Tomlin, at varying times. As his health steadily deteriorated Llewelyn moved to Switzerland in 1936 where he continued to write essays and completed an imaginary autpbiography Love and Death.


llewelyn powys wessex and yuletide essays

Llewelyn Powys is one of the rare writers who teach endurance of life as well as its enjoyment. Philip Larkin

For those with wit to heed his calls to observe and consider, the rewards of reading Powys are apparent … He is a writer of often exquisite perception. The Times Literary Supplement

It is Llewelyn Powys’s distinction of attitude, style and personality that makes his writing remarkable. Peter J. Foss (bibliographer)

When Llewelyn Powys puts pen to paper, something miraculous happens with words. The New York Herald Tribune

Civilisation needs men like Llewelyn Powys, such men who combine the austerity of a saint with the zest of a pagan. Ethel Mannin


DURDLE DOOR TO DARTMOOR
Wessex Essays of Llewelyn Powys
Llewelyn Powys
llewelyn powys, durdle door to dartmoor, sundial press, chydyok, east chadon, alyse gregory, john cowper powys, montacute, thomas hardy, dorset essays CONTENTS: The Durdle Door - The White Nose - A Bronze Age Valley - Bats Head -The Fossil Forest - The Castle Park of East Lulworth - St Aldhelm’s Head - Studland - Corfe Castle - Herring Gulls - Stalbridge Rectory - The River Yeo - Cerne Abbas - Stinsford Churchyard - The Grave of William Barnes - Weymouth Harbour - Portland - A Famous Wreck - Hardy’s Monument - The Swannery Bell at Abbotsbury - Lyme Regis - Montacute House - Ham Hill - On the Other Side of the Quantocks - Exmoor - Dartmoor  

ISBN-13: 9780955152344
Paperback at 9.99

"It brings together twenty-six of his best essays in a paperback volume, the cover adorned with a striking painting by local artist Nicholas Hely Hutchinson of the Dorset cliff path -- a path on which still stands the memorial stone to Llewelyn Powys carved by the sculptress Elizabeth Muntz. The arrangement of the essays suggests a sort of tour of Wessex, covering as they do a wide range of places and topics, from Corfe Castle to Lyme Regis, from Cerne Abbas to Studland. But this is no mere tourist handbook, rather an ideal companion to one. Powys was a wonderfully observant writer, whether contemplating the delicate imprints of deer hooves in the parklands of Sherborne or aerial battles between ravens and falcons, or recalling the “pantaloon trousers” of his grandfather at Stalbridge Rectory carrying primroses for his wife or the “round shining belly” of a kitchen kettle that Thomas Hardy said was his earliest memory." From the first review of DURDLE DOOR TO DARTMOOR which appeared in The Blackmore Vale Magazine. You can read a PDF file of the full review  here



DURDLE DOOR TO DARTMOOR


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STILL BLUE BEAUTY
Wessex Essays of Llewelyn Powys
Llewelyn Powys
llewelyn powys, still blue beauty, wessex essays, sundial press,chydyok, east chadon, alyse gregory, john cowper powys, montacute, thomas hardy, dorset essays

CONTENTS: The Sea! The Sea! The Sea! - Lodmoor - The Memory of One Day - A Stonehenge in Miniature - The Father of Dorset - A Pond - High Chaldon - A Royal Rebel - Somerset Names - Montacute Hill - The Village Shop - The Wordsworths in Dorset - The World Is New! - A Visit by Moonlight - Shaftesbury: Champion of the Poor - A Wish for Freedom - Athelney: In the Steps of King Alfred - Wookey Hole - Green Corners of Dorset - Recollections of Thomas Hardy - A Foolish Razorbill - A Richer Treasure - Weymouth Memories - The Shambles Fog-Horn - Dorchester Lives

    (includes four previously uncollected essays)

ISBN-13: 9780955152375

in paperback at 9.99


The essays in this volume were written in the 1930s and were first published in a wide variety of journals, from broadsheets such as the Manchester Guardian, Dorset Daily Echo, and Western Gazette and the popular magazines Country Life and the Atlantic Monthly, to literary journals such as the Adelphi and the Virginia Quarterly Review, as well as other more obscure publications such as the Weymouth and District Hospital Carnival Programme.
  But wherever his work appeared – and Powys was refreshingly unsnobbish about his reputation in this regard – he wrote for the same reader and with the same confidant intimacy of a personal friend, appealing to the native common sense and natural goodness of ordinary people, and asking only that they take the time to observe and contemplate during their own earthly sojourn.

CHRISTMAS LORE AND LEGEND

Yuletide Essays by Llewelyn Powys

Llewelyn Powys
llewelyn powys, christmas essays, yuletide essays, wessex essays, sundial press,chydyok, east chadon, alyse gregory, john cowper powys, montacute, thomas hardy, dorset essays

CONTENTS: The First Fall of Snow ~ The Spirit of the Season ~ A Childhood Christmas ~ The First Christmas Tree ~ Merry Is the Word ~ Mistletoe and Fir ~ The Month of December ~ Charity and Christmas Ballads ~ A Christmas Mystery ~ Town and Country ~ Our Merry Ancestors ~ Evergreens and Corn Sheaves ~ Ships and Stockings ~ The Wassail Bowl and New Year Customs
   (includes ten previously uncollected essays)

ISBN 978-0-9551523-9-9

in paperback at 6.99

CONTENTS: The First Fall of Snow ~ The Spirit of the Season ~ A Childhood Christmas ~ The First Christmas Tree ~ Merry Is the Word ~ Mistletoe and Fir ~ The Month of December ~ Charity and Christmas Ballads ~ A Christmas Mystery ~ Town and Country ~ Our Merry Ancestors ~ Evergreens and Corn Sheaves ~ Ships and Stockings ~ The Wassail Bowl and New Year Customs

Rich in imagery and anecdote, woven through with local lore and personal reminiscence, these Yuletide essays bring vividly alive the customs and characters, the sounds and tastes, of earlier generations, and are informed by the lively curiosity and deep nostalgia that typify Powys’s best work. They encapsulate, too, his unerring vision of humanistic values and the delight in the pleasures and comfort of good fellowship that Powys so greatly prized.

Read the yuletide essay MERRY IS THE WORD as featured in the Christmas issue of DORSET LIFE here as a PDF file (will open in a new tab or window).

llewelyn powys, merry is the word, dorset life magazine, christmas essays, yuletide essays, wessex essays, sundial press,chydyok, east chadon, alyse gregory, john cowper powys, montacute, thomas hardy, dorset essays

CHRISTMAS LORE AND LEGEND


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A REVIEW OF 

Christmas Lore & Legend: Yuletide Essays by Llewelyn Powys

 

Christmas Lore & Legend is a collection of fourteen previously uncollected `Yuletide Essays’ by Llewelyn Powys, although five of them have previously been published in books which include `A Baker’s Dozen (2)’; `Dorset Essays’(2); `The Twelve Months’ and Kenneth Hopkins’ `Llewelyn Powys – A Selection from His Writings’ The remaining nine essays were previously published in newspapers and magazines during the 1930s, with about half of them being written in Switzerland during the final three years of Llewelyn’s life, and they are collected here in book form for the first time.

This is the third book of `collected essays’ from the Sundial Press by this author, following `Durdle Door to Dartmoor’ and its companion volume, `Still Blue Beauty’, and the publishers are to be congratulated, for as all devotees of Llewelyn Powys know, apart from `Wessex Memories’ (2002) and Cecil Woolf’s `Powys Heritage Series’ of diary publications selected & edited by the excellent Peter Foss, in recent years any previously unpublished Llewelyn Powys material has been – and remains - as rare as frog's feathers!

Of course it is regrettable and little disappointing to those who collect his work that any new title with Llewelyn Powys named as author should contain any previously published material at all, yet considering that it’s seventy one years since his death, it’s almost inevitable that this should be the case as the volume of his work -- especially that which constitutes publishable material -- becomes exhausted. Perhaps then, we should be thankful for small mercies and welcome this latest publication into the canon of his books, remembering that it could also be an introduction to the author for someone who is only initially interested in the lore and legend of Christmas! For even if the author’s name meant nothing, the startlingly attractive cover alone would most certainly catch the interest and attention of such a person, for it bears all the festive hallmarks of the 1930’s period Christmas with the ubiquitous Robin and sprigs of holly against a merry red background, and looks for all the world like the fattest Christmas card you ever saw. Dare I hint that it would make an ideal Christmas gift?

The book benefits from an intuitively written and extremely perceptive foreword by Anthony Head, whose brilliant summation of this collection of essays can neither be gainsaid nor surpassed when he writes:

Rich in imagery and anecdote, woven through with local lore and personal reminiscence, these Yuletide essays bring vividly alive the customs and character, the sounds and tastes of earlier generations and are informed by the lively curiosity and deep nostalgia that typify Powys’ best work.

`Rich in imagery and anecdote’ is true of all his work, but oft repeated anecdote constitutes a blemish on an otherwise flawless page, and there are blemishes here which include the repetition of both anecdote and phrase in several of the essays. Of content and style they represent a mixed bag, with the author’s virtues and faults paraded together; well-balanced lyrical sentences marred by the use of an obscure word or phrase, one or two mixed metaphors, the striving for effect with an over-indulgence in exclamation marks…!

Equally, those who are familiar with Llewelyn’s best work will recognize instances where his normally unique style becomes affected – doubtless influenced by writing for a specific readership, but nevertheless disconcerting; and given his avowed and much vaunted pagan rationalism, some of these `affectations’ are incommiscible. And whilst some may feel that two or three of the essays lack the quality of construction and crystal clear coherence normally associated with Llewelyn, others may be bemused by comments which would seem to indicate the author’s tacit acceptance of some of the tenets of Christianity.

Criticism apart, some of Llewelyn’s finest work is also represented here, perhaps nowhere more so than in the very first essay, `The First Fall of Snow’ when, reminiscing about his time in Africa, he writes:

I have felt the earth, our ancient Mother Earth beneath my feet, tremble and quiver in an ecstasy of childbirth under the sweet persuasion of those torrential down-pourings; but never once did she attain to such mysterious power as when, at rest under a covering of snow, she lies with the appearance and potency of a sepultured goddess who is in truth dead and yet retains that upon her ivory forehead which is equivalent to immortality.
 

Neil Lee Atkin (The Powys Society Newsletter)


Llewelyn Powys and Christmas shopping in Dorchester

llewelyn powys, christmas lore and legend, the sundial press, dorchester,Jo Draper takes a walk through yesteryear's Dorchester as seen through the enthusiastic eyes of Llewelyn Powys and traders' adverts through the ages

Llewelyn Powys loved Dorchester, and even thought it best in winter, rejoicing: ‘Oh! how happy I have been shopping in this town on the Saturday before Christmas. The thronging crowds afford a liberal education as to the inner being of the county – the eighteenth-century country faces of the farmers, homely and hearty, as they stand in the crowds outside the Antelope, … the face of a farm labourer almost religious in its refinement, glimpsed for a moment as the man passes along the pavement with a sprig of holly in his cap.
‘To be abroad in Dorchester on a Christmas Eve is an experience never to be forgotten,’ he waxed happily, continuing, ‘by half-past three, with the first snow of the year fluttering down, the shops are brightly lighted. The streets offer many a lively scene – the country woman, over-burdened with parcels and with young-eyed children one, two, and three all clinging to the folds of her round skirt; the town girl light of step with a present for true love; the aged upstairs lodger, glad to have been about in the taverns Christmassing; the genial fishwife, my own friend, at her place, with two heaps piled up on her wide wooden tray, the one of silver, the other of gold – for see how her fat fresh herrings shine silver bright, her oranges from Spain like a pyramid of brass!’

From Dorset Life magazine (to read the full article, please click here)



Listen to STINSFORD CHURCHYARD read by actor Chris Wilkinson

STINSFORD CHURCHYARD by Llewelyn Powys
read by Chris Wilkinson (7 mins 41 secs)
Please click on the icon below to hear Chris Wilkinson read an essay from Durdle Door to Dartmoor 

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