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MS 434

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MS 434


Anthony Powell archive



Administrative / Biographical history

Powell, Anthony (1905-2000)

Anthony Dykmore Powell was born on 21st December 1905 in Westminster. He was the only child of Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Lionel William Powell (1882–1959) and Maud Mary (1867–1954), second daughter of Edmund Lionel Wells-Dymoke.

Powell attended New Beacon preparatory school in Kent. In 1919 he continued his education at Eton College, where he spent much of his time in the Studio. Powell was a founding member of the Eton Society for the Arts. In 1923 he went up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied history.

In 1926 Powell was recruited by the Duckworth publishing house; reading unsolicited manuscripts, he said, taught him more about writing than reading classics. His first novel, Afternoon Men (1931), captured London’s bohemian party scene. Venusberg (1932) and From a View to a Death (1933) followed. Around this time Powell began to work as a scriptwriter for Warner Brothers in Teddington. In 1934 he married Lady Violet Georgiana Pakenham, a book reviewer and author.

During the Second World War Powell spend 18 months as an infantry subaltern, followed by four years in the intelligence corps. He was awarded the orders of the White Lion (Czechoslovakia), Leopold II (Belgium), and Oaken Crown and Croix de Guerre (Luxembourg). Soon after the War ended Powell resumed writing, and in 1948 John Aubrey and his Friends (1948), a biography of the seventeenth-century antiquary, was published. His next project was A Question of Upbringing (1951), the first of twelve instalments of A Dance to the Music of Time. Like Lady Violet, he was also a literary journalist and became the literary editor of Punch, leaving in 1958 to review books for the Daily Telegraph.

In 1956 Powell was made CBE, and In 1974 was made an honorary fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. Powell was made a Companion of Honour in 1988.

Powell died at The Chantry, Somerset on 28 March 2000.

References: Michael Barber, ‘Powell, Anthony Dymoke (1905–2000)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2010 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/73965, accessed 1 June 2015]



Extent & medium

10 boxes and 2 folders

Content description

The Anthony Powell archive consists of typescript material relating to both his literary and journalistic work. Although the typescripts and working papers of his literary work are fragmented and incomplete, the collection is still significant. In terms of his journalistic work, this collection includes complete typescripts and other working papers of Powell's articles, reviews, obituaries and introductions, and offprints of articles on the history of the Powell family.

There is also a collection of autograph letters from and to Powell, research material, personal papers, photographs and material about the archive itself.

It should be emphasised that Powell's initial drafts were always typed rather than handwritten; the typescripts in this collection are effectively his manuscripts, often corrected by hand. Powell 'composed on the typewriter' and corrected in pencil. Occasionally a page might need to be retyped, when the original would be scrapped or, on occasion, turned over and used again on its verso, perhaps for quite a different book. There is a lot of evidence of this in the collection.


Bequeathed to College Library by Lady Violet Powell on Anthony Powell's behalf. A small amount of material was given later by John Powell, their son. When this is the case, it has been specified at file or item level.

Associated material

Eton College Library also has some postcards from Anthony Powell in the Wyndham Lloyd archive (MS 737), catalogued separately.

Separately acquired TLS to Neville Braybrooke catalogued as MS 971.
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