Collection inventory

Finding Aids

John Cowper Powys Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: BEB
Date: 31 Oct 1973

Revision history:
3 Oct 2007 converted to EAD (MRC)
5 Jan 2017 fixed index code (MRC)

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Powys, John Cowper, 1872-1963.
Title: John Cowper Powys Papers
Dates: 1890-1972
Quantity: 3.0 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.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

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

Correspondence from the early years is that from Powys to others, while later correspondence is to and from others discussing Powys. An index to the correspondence appears at the end of this finding aid.

Writings consists primarily of unpublished fragments and notebooks of essays, novels, plays, poems, and prefaces.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.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically; undated items are at the end, arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Writings are arranged first by type and then by title.


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.

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.

Subject Headings


Ackroyd, Graham.
Bason, Frederick T.
Denny, Norman, 1901-
Grebenc, Lucile.
Kime, Warren Penn, 1919-
Lewin, George L.
Pollock, Laurence.
Powys, John Cowper, 1872-1963.
Richardson, 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)



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.

Table of Contents




Selected index to correspondence


Box 1 [General] 1927-1965, undated
Box 2 Autobiography 1934 - fragment, holograph
Box 2 In Spite Of 1953 - fragment, holograph, chapter 1, typescript carbon revised
Box 2 Mortal Strife 1943 - Chapters 1-5, typescript carbon revised
Box 2 Morwyn 1937 - fragment, holograph
Box 2 Owen Glendower 1940 - fragment, holograph; chapters 1-6 and 8, typescript carbon revised
Box 2 Untitled [early novel] c.1894 - fragment, holograph
Box 2 Untitled [the life of a street girl] c.1900 - notebook, holograph
Box 2 Untitled c.1904 - two notebooks, holograph
Box 3 Weymouth Sands 1934 - fragment, holograph
Box 3 Wolf Solent 1929 - fragment, holograph; chapters 19-24, holograph
Box 3 "The Inhumanity of Liberal Protestantism" undated - fragment, holograph
Box 3 "The New Paganism" c.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 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
Box 4 With Love Away, and other unpublished fragments and poems circa 1894 - 3 notebooks
Box 4 Transcription by Paul Roberts 1993
Box 5 Untitled c.1894 (five notebooks, holograph)
Box 5 Burpham Journals circa 1909, circa 1919 (2 notebooks)
Box 5, 6 Cambridge and Southwick Journals circa 1890-96 (9 notebooks)
Box 6 Samphire circa 1912, circa 1922 - notebook, published material
Box 6 To the May Chesshire Letters circa 1935 - fragment, holograph
Box 6 To Stern circa 1948 - fragments, unpublished holograph, typescript carbon
Box 6 Letters from a Modern Welsh Merlin to Penn Kime 1964 - ts.
Box 6 Swiss Essays by Llewelyn Powys, 1947 - typescript carbon
Box 6 Newspaper clippings, and autograph 1955-1972
Box 6 Philobiblon, published by Colgate Univ. Press 1966
Oversize 1 Photograph album, Powys family
Box 6 The Powys Family, by Littleton circa Powys 1952
Box 6 Copy negatives from photograph album (not all-inclusive)

Selected index to correspondence