John Cowper Powys (POH-uhs), born in Derbyshire, England, on October 8, 1872, was a member of an extraordinarily artistic family. His father was a minister of the Church of England, his mother a descendant of the poets William Cowper and John Donne. John Cowper Powys was an exceptionally prolific writer, and his two brothers, Llewelyn and Theodore Francis, each turned out a volume of work almost equal to his own. Of the other eight Powys children, one sister became a novelist and poet, another sister a painter, another brother an architect. All shared an inheritance of English common sense and Celtic imagination.
Powys, once graduated from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, began his career as a lecturer in the United States and Britain. His approach to figures such as Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson was peculiarly romantic; he would try to intuit the essential nature of the man about whom he was speaking and would often identify himself with that person. As a result, his literary criticism is emotionally based, and his comments frequently reveal more about Powys than they do about the ostensible subject of the lecture. Despite this subjective quality, or perhaps because of it, he was a very successful lecturer.
His father having granted him an annuity of sixty pounds, Powys began the risky career of writing. He had been influenced by the pantheism of William Wordsworth and the Celtic romanticism of the early William...
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