POWELL, Anthony

(1905 - 2000)
“I get a warm feeling among my books.”

Born in Westminster into a comfortable upper middle-class family, Powell was educated at Eton and Baliol College, Oxford (an experience which he described as "the crushing melancholy of the undergraduate condition" in Books Do Furnish A Room).  He went on to work for the publisher Duckworths before turning to script writing at Warner Brothers.  His first novel, Afternoon Men, was published in 1931 whilst he was still at Duckworths, and he certainly oversaw its production.  During the 1930’s Duckworth went on to publish all his pre-war novels, including Venusburg, From A View to a Death and Agents and Patients.  He spent his war years first with his father’s old regiment The Welch, and then with the Intelligence Corps, where he gained experiences of the army system which were to appear in his later novels.  By 1951 Powell had decided he could now make a living purely from his writing and he brought out the first book in his epic Dance to the Music of Time series.  Famously he is said to have stood in front of Nicholas Poussin’s painting of the same name and thought “Poussin had expressed at least one important aspect of what the novel must be”. A Question of Upbringing introduced Nicholas Jenkins to the world and for the next 25 years, until Hearing the Secret Harmonies, published in1975, Powell wrote about the metropolitan circles Jenkins inhabited, the people that wove in and out of his life, where they would “disappear only to reappear again, once more giving pattern to the spectacle”.   His books are based on the people and society he was familiar with, and he is often described as being concerned only with “the well-born, well-off and well-educated”, however any suggestion of elitism is always leavened by his polish and wit.

He won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1957 for At Lady Molly’s and The W.H. Smith Prize for Temporary Kings in 1974.  For his services to literature he was awarded a CBE in 1956 and was made a Companion of Honour in 1988.

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 Anthony POWELL

Books by this author

What's Become of Waring?

POWELL, Anthony


The Fisher King

POWELL, Anthony


Temporary Kings

POWELL, Anthony


The Military Philosophers

POWELL, Anthony


Hearing Secret Harmonies

POWELL, Anthony


The Acceptance World

POWELL, Anthony


A Buyer's Market

POWELL, Anthony


A Question of Upbringing

POWELL, Anthony