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John Cowper Powys Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Powys, John Cowper, 1872-1963.
Title: John Cowper Powys Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1890-1972
Quantity: 4.0 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the British novelist, poet, author. Collection includes correspondence (1927-1965); manuscript notebooks containing holograph fragments of essays, novels, plays, poems, prefaces (1890-1966); and memorabilia including clippings, pamphlets, and a Powys family photograph album. Correspondents include Graham Ackroyd, Fred Bason, Norman Denny, Lucile Grebenc, Warren Penn Kime, George L. Lewin, Laurence Pollack, Dorothy M. Richardson, Asta Fleming Sullivan, Sven-Erik Tāckmark, and Clifford Tolchard.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) was an English essayist, novelist and poet.

Powys was born in Shirley, Derbyshire, England, on October 8, 1872. He received his education at Sherborne Preparatory School and later at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he earned his degreee in history.In 1896 and 1899, Powys published two volumes of poetry, Odes and Other Poems and Poems, respectively. Then, for several years he was primarily occupied with lecturing, first for the Oxford and Cambridge Extension, for whom he gave his first American lecture in 1910, and later on his own.

In 1915 his first novel, Wood and Stone, appeared. Two years later, his third volume of poetry, Mandragora, was published in America, followed by Samphire in 1922. From that point on his prolific output of essays, novels and poems continued until 1980, his eighty-eighth year.

John Cowper Powys married Margaret Alice Lyon on April 9, 1898, and they had one child, a son. Powys died June 17, 1963.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Cowper Powys Papers consist of correspondence, writings and memorabilia. The materials date from 1890-1972.

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically and includes letters to/from Powys as well as third-party correspondence discussing Powys.

Writings consists primarily of unpublished fragments and notebooks of essays, novels, plays, poems, and prefaces. Also included here are Powys' letters compiled by Penn Kime in book form, and a typescript of Llewelyn Powys' Swiss Essays.

Memorabilia contains newspaper clippings, two published pamphlets on John Cowper Powys and the Powys family, and a Powys family photograph album.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Writings are arranged first by type and then by title.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

Other John Cowper Powys letters exist in the Eric Wilson Barker Papers and the Edmund B. Chaffee Papers, and in the papers of Professor A. E. Johnson in the Syracuse University Archives.

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Subject Headings


Ackroyd, Graham.
Bason, Frederick T.
Denny, Norman, 1901-1982.
Grebenc, Lucile.
Kime, Warren Penn, 1919-
Lewin, George L.
Pollock, Laurence.
Powys, John Cowper, 1872-1963.
Richardson, Dorothy M. (Dorothy Miller), 1873-1957.
Sullivan, Asta Fleming.
Tackmark, Sven-Erik, 1916-
Tolchard, Clifford, 1908-


Authors, English.
English literature, 20th century.
Novelists, English.
Poets, English.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Photograph albums.
Scripts (documents)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Cowper Powys Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Marian Powys Grey, 1964 and purchase, 1962-1973.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: BEB
Date: 31 Oct 1973
Revision history: 3 Oct 2007 - converted to EAD (MRC); 5 Jan 2017 - fixed index code (MRC); 19 Sep 2018 - correspondence sorted, inventory updated (MS)

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Box 1 [General] 1927-1965, undated
Box 1 Ackroyd, Graham 1950-1952
Box 1 Bason, Fred 1955
Box 1 Denny, Norman 1946-1951 (4 folders)
Box 1 Fleming, Asta 1933-1939, 1953-1961 (4 folders)
Box 1 Grebenc, Lucile 1935-1939
Box 1 Harker, Brian 1957
Box 1 Kime, Warren Penn Jr. 1943-1959 (4 folders)
Box 1 Lewin, George L. 1939-1960, undated (7 folders)
Box 1 Odle, Rose Isserlis 1956-1962
Box 1 Petterson, Sven-Eric 1937-1943
Box 1 Pollinger, Lawrence 1945
Box 1 Powys, Theodore Francis 1928
Box 1 Priestley, J. B. 1965
Box 1 Ravenel, St. Julien 1935-1937
Box 1 Richardson, Dorothy M. 1953
Box 1 Tolchard, Clifford 1947-1960 (2 folders)
Box 1 Wilkinson, Louis 1946-1947
Box 1 Miscellaneous 1927-1929, 1933, 1938, 1947, 1951-1955, undated
Includes the following: Cate, Garth; Curtis (Mrs.); Grey, Marion Powys; Harker, Brian; Lorring, Pierre; Milkman, Jerome; Roberts, Lester; Russell, Oliver John; Schuster, Max Lincoln; Tackmark, [Sven Eric]; White, Katherine; several unidentified individuals
Box 1 After My Fashion 1980 - published edition, Pan Books, London
Box 2 Autobiography 1934 - fragment, holograph
Box 2 In Spite Of 1953 - fragment, holograph, chapter 1, typescript carbon revised (2 folders)
Box 2 Mortal Strife 1943 - chapters 1-5, typescript carbon revised (4 folders)
Box 2 Morwyn 1937 - fragment, holograph
Box 2 Owen Glendower 1940 - fragment, holograph; chapters 1-6 and 8, typescript carbon revised (6 folders)
Box 2 Rodmoor - fragment, holograph
Box 3 Weymouth Sands 1934 - fragment, holograph
Box 3 Wolf Solent 1929 - fragment, holograph; chapters 19-24, holograph (4 folders)
Box 3 Untitled [early novel] circa 1894 - fragment, holograph (4 folders)
Box 3 Untitled [the life of a street girl] circa 1900 - notebook, holograph
Box 3 Untitled circa 1904 - two notebooks, holograph
Box 3 "The Inhumanity of Liberal Protestantism" undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 "The New Paganism" circa 1910 - notebook, holograph
Box 3 On America undated - fragment and notes, holograph
Box 3 On being happy with a woman undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On contemplating life and death undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On Dorchester undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On Dostoievski undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On "The Ichthian Act" undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On Mr. James Flanders at Wealden undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On the purpose of life undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On Several Subjects – and From Several Points of View circa 1894 - notebook, holograph
Box 3 On two sisters – Fanny and Lubie Howard undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On tyranny undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 On vivisection and fascism undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 What I expect from Life undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 What is Happiness undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 Unidentified fragment undated - holograph
Box 4 The Idiot 1922 - Acts I-IV, holograph and typescript carbon (3 folders)
Box 4 The Idiot - typescript carbon with notes
Box 4 With Love Away, and other unpublished fragments and poems circa 1894 - 3 notebooks, holograph (3 folders)
Box 4 With Love Away, Transcription by Paul Roberts 1993 - typescript
Box 5 Untitled circa 1894 - five notebooks, holograph
Box 5 Burpham Journals circa 1909, circa 1919 - 2 notebooks (2 folders)
Box 5 Cambridge and Southwick Journals circa 1890-1896 - 8 notebooks (4 folders)
Box 6 Cambridge and Southwick Journals circa 1890-1896 - 1 notebook
Box 6 Samphire circa 1912 - notebook, holograph
Box 6 Samphire circa 1922 - typescript of published material
Box 6 To the May Chesshire Letters circa 1935 - fragment, holograph
Box 6 To Stern circa 1948 - fragments, unpublished holograph, typescript carbon (2 folders)
Box 6 Letters from a Modern Welsh Merlin, John Cowper Powys to Penn Kime 1964 - typescript of letters between Powys and Kime, with foreword by Kime
Box 6 Swiss Essays by Llewelyn Powys 1947 - typescript carbon
Box 6 Copy negatives from photograph album (not all-inclusive)
Box 6 Newspaper clippings and autograph 1955-1972
Box 6 Philobiblon, no. 8, published by Colgate University Press Winter 1966
Oversize 1 Photograph album, Powys family
Box 6 The Powys Family, by Littleton circa Powys 1952
Oversize 2 Scrapbook of clippings

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