New Beacon School, New Beacon School
Eton College, Eton College
University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
1 Chester Gate, London NW1 4JH, UK
The Chantry, Chantry, Frome BA11 3LJ, UK
Anthony Dymoke Powell CH CBE (21 December 1905 – 28 March 2000) was an English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time, published between 1951 and 1975. The coining of the expression ‘Homintern’ is often attributed to Cyril Connolly, less often to Maurice Bowra, and sometimes to W.H. Auden; but Anthony Powell thought its source was Jocelyn Brooke, and Harold Norse claimed it for himself. He was a member of the Hypocrites' Club. Anthony Powell wrote: "Coming from different colleges, we used to lunch or dine several times a week at this inexpensive and ill-furnished club over a bicycle shop near Folly Bridge. The premises, reputed to be Tudor, were certainly very rickety. The membership, equally irregular, was in process of changing from shove-halfpenny playing Bohemians to fancy-dress wearing aesthetes. One of the rowdiest members was Evelyn Waugh, one of the most sophisticated Harold Acton."
Powell's major work has remained in print continuously and has been the subject of TV and radio dramatisations. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Powell among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
Powell was born in Westminster, Middlesex, the son of Philip Lionel William Powell and Maud Mary Wells-Dymoke. His father was an officer in the Welsh Regiment, while his mother came from a land-owning family in Lincolnshire. Because of his father's career and the First World War, the family moved several times, and mother and son sometimes lived apart from Powell's father.
Powell attended Gibbs's pre-prep day-school for a brief time. He was then sent to New Beacon School near Sevenoaks, which was popular with military families. Early in 1919, Powell passed the Common Entrance Examination for Eton, where he started that autumn. There he made a friend of a fellow pupil, Henry Yorke, later to become known as the novelist Henry Green. At Eton, Powell spent much of his spare time at the Studio, where a sympathetic art master encouraged him to develop his talent as a draughtsman and his interest in the visual arts. In 1922 he became a founding member of the Eton Society of Arts. The Society's members produced an occasional magazine called The Eton Candle.
Anthony Powell by Henry Lamb
In the autumn of 1923, Powell went up to Balliol College, Oxford. Soon after his arrival he was introduced to the Hypocrites' Club. Outside that club he came to know Maurice Bowra, then a young don at Wadham College. During his third year Powell lived out of college, sharing rooms with Henry Yorke. Powell travelled on the Continent during his holidays. He was awarded a third-class degree at the end of his academic years.
Upon his arrival in London, after Oxford, part of Powell's social life centred around attendance at formal debutante dances at houses in Mayfair and Belgravia. He renewed acquaintance with Evelyn Waugh, whom he had known at Oxford, and was a frequent guest for Sunday supper at Waugh's parents' house. Waugh introduced him to the Gargoyle Club, which gave him experience in London's Bohemia. He got to know the painters Nina Hamnett and Adrian Daintrey, who were neighbours in Fitzrovia, and the composer Constant Lambert, who remained a good friend until Lambert's death in 1951.
Powell married Lady Violet Pakenham (1912–2002), sister of Lord Longford, on 1 December 1934 at All Saints, Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge. Powell and his wife relocated to 1 Chester Gate in Regent's Park, London, where they remained for seventeen years. Their first son, Tristram, was born in April 1940, but Powell and his wife spent most of the war years apart, while he served in the Welch Regiment and later in the Intelligence Corps. A second son, John, was born in January 1946.
Powell was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1956, and in 1973 he declined an offer of knighthood. He was appointed Companion of Honour (CH) in 1988. He served as a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery from 1962 to 1976. With Lady Violet, he travelled to the United States, India, Guatemala, Italy, and Greece.
On 30 April 2018, Powell's granddaughter Georgia Powell (born 18 February 1969) married Henry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort.
Anthony Powell died on 28 March 2000 at his home, The Chantry, Whatley, west of Frome, Somerset.
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