RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 433/CPP
LevelSection
TitlePapers and books relating to Philippa Powys
DescriptionA small section of material relating to Catharine Edith Philippa Powys. The majority of the collection is comprised of books by her in addition to a small number of manuscript/ typescript poems, correspondence with friends and family, cuttings and her ex libris. Catharine was commonly known to her family and friends as Katie.
Admin HistoryCatharine Edith Philippa Powys (1886-1963) was born on 8 May 1886 at Montacute in Somerset, the ninth of eleven children born to Reverend C.F. Powys and his wife Mary Cowper Johnson. Known to family and friends as 'Katie', she had governesses but no formal education and much of the knowledge she acquired in youth was self-discovered. Her early adult life was spent farming, but her creative energies were channelled into literature from an early age.

A tumultuous few years began in 1909 when she met Stephen Reynolds, a young socialist and the great (unrequited) love of her life, who introduced her to new thinkers. In 1912 she was briefly admitted to a sanatorium in Bristol before training at an agricultural college in 1913 and working on a women's co-operative farm in sussex in 1914. After her mother died in 1914 she returned to Montacute and rented a small dairy 'Roper's Farm'. In 1919 Reynolds died of influenza but he remained a frequent entry in her diary for decades after. In 1924 she moved into Chydyok, an isolated farmhouse near the majestic Dorset coastline, with her sister, the artist Gertrude Powys. A few years later her brother, Llewelyn Powys, and his wife, Alyse Gregory, joined them to occupy the adjacent cottage.

Despite never achieving the success of her literary brothers she wrote at least two novels at Chydyok that were never published – The Tragedy of Budvale and Joan Callais – as well as a play, The Quick and the Dead. Subsequent novels included The Path of the Gale and Further West, but these too were never published. In 1930, she had a collection of poems published titled Driftwood, and three short pamphlets of poems appeared thereafter (many of them republished in 1992 in Driftwood and Other Poems). That year also saw her only success as a novelist with The Blackthorn Winter, published by Constable in London and by Richard R. Smith in New York.
FormatVarious formats
Access StatusOpen
Creator_NamePowys; Catherine Edith Philippa; Katie (1886-1963); novelist and poet
London; The Powys Society (1967-)
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