John Cowper Powys

One needs no strange spiritual faith to worship the earth.

– John Cowper Powys


born in The United Kingdom, October 08, 1872

died: June 17, 1963
gender: male
Powys was born in Shirley, Derbyshire, where his father was vicar. His mother was descended from the poet William Cowper, hence his middle name. His two younger brothers, Llewelyn Powys and Theodore Francis Powys, also became well-known writers. Other brothers and sisters also became prominent in the arts. John studied at Sherborne School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and became a teacher and lecturer; as lecturer, he worked first in England, then in continental Europe and finally in the USA, where he lived in the years 1904-1934.
While in the United States, his work was championed by author Theodore Dreiser. He engaged in public debate with Bertrand Russell and the philosopher and historian Will Durant: he was called for the defence in the first obscenity trial for the James Joyce novel, Ulysses, and was mentioned with approval in the autobiography of US feminist and anarchist, Emma Goldman. He made his name as a poet and essayist, moving on to produce a series of acclaimed novels distinguished by their uniquely detailed and intensely sensual recreation of time, place and character. They also describe heightened states of awareness resulting from mystic revelation, or from the experience of extreme pleasure or pain. The best known of these distinctive novels are A Glastonbury Romance and Wolf Solent.
He also wrote some works of philosophy and literary criticism, including a pioneering tribute to Dorothy Richardson. Having returned to the UK, he lived in England for a brief time, then moved to Corwen in Wales, where he wrote historical romances (including two set in Wales) and magical fantasies. He later moved to Blaenau Ffestiniog, where he remained until his death in 1963.

8 thoughts on “John Cowper Powys

  1. October 8, 1872: British writer John Cowper Powys continued to produce work into his nineties, but he steadfastly rejected modernity—no typewriters for him! He also disliked television, telephones and cars. The author of A Glastonbury Romance was born in Derbyshire, 141 years ago today.

  2. the power of story, and the eternity of the written word, priceless

  3. I love the quote, so true x

    • This is the full quote: “It is strange how few people make more than a casual cult of enjoying Nature. And yet the earth is actually and literally the mother of us all. One needs no strange spiritual faith to worship the earth.”
      ― John Cowper Powys, A Glastonbury Romance

  4. He had quite an illustrious career. So interesting to read because one can only imagine with the faculties present to communicate over distances how one did become so famous/well known. Real history, real story, is something I really enjoy. Thanks, Ela.:-)

  5. Love this quote! : )))

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