Sunday, August 2, 2009

Author of the Day: Anthony Powell

English author Anthony Powell (pronounced like "toll" not "towel") was born in 1905. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford where he met several other young writers, including Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. Prior to World War II he worked in publishing and as a film-script writer, before becoming a full-time novelist and literary critic.

Powell is best known for his twelve-volume novel, A Dance to the Music of Time, most commonly available in a four-volume set with three novels in each. Dance is at the top of my "Top 10" favorite books list and what always name as my "desert island" book, although that may be cheating, since it is really 12 books.

Powell wrote a number of other novels and a biography of the seventeenth-century diarist John Aubrey. He was also a prolific literary critic and book reviewer for a number of periodicals including the Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement, Punch and the Spectator. He published four volumes of memoirs, three volumes of diaries, and two volumes of his selected literary criticism.

Powell was married to the author Lady Violet Pakenham. He died in 2000 at his home in Somerset.

His books are listed below in order of publication. Those I have read, including all of Dance, are in red. Those currently on my TBR shelf are in blue. I hope to read them all some day, although several are hard to find.

Afternoon Men

Venusberg (reviewed here)

From a View to a Death

Agents and Patients
What's Become of Waring

John Aubrey and His Friends

A Question of Upbringing (Dance to the Music of Time, Vol. 1)

A Buyer's Market (Dance, Vol. 2)

The Acceptance World (Dance, Vol. 3)

At Lady Molly's (Dance, Vol. 4)

Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (Dance, Vol. 5)

The Kindly Ones (Dance, Vol. 6)

John Aubrey and His Friends a New and Revised Edition

The Valley of Bones (Dance, Vol. 7)

The Soldier's Art (Dance, Vol. 8)

The Military Philosophers (Dance, Vol. 9)

Books Do Furnish a Room (Dance, Vol. 10)

Two Plays By Anthony Powell: The Garden God & The Rest I'll Whistle

Temporary Kings (Dance, Vol. 11)

Hearing Secret Harmonies (Dance, Vol. 12)

To Keep the Ball Rolling: Infants of the Spring (Memoirs, Vol. 1)

To Keep the Ball Rolling: Messengers of Day (Memoirs, Vol. 2)

To Keep the Ball Rolling: Faces In My Time (Memoirs, Vol. 3)

To Keep the Ball Rolling: The Strangers All Are Gone (Memoirs, Vol. 4)

O, How the Wheel Becomes It!

The Fisher King

Miscellaneous Verdicts: Writings on Writers

Under Review: Further Writings on Writers, 1946-1990

Journals, 1982-1986

Journals, 1987-1989

Journals 1990-1992

Writer's Notebook


Books Do Furnish a Room (where you will find many Powell posts)

(If you would like your Powell-related blog posts listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)


Last updated December 29, 2018.


  1. Prolific is right:) This is a new to me author. I will have to check him out since his is a desert island book. Bonus that it is 12 volumes.

  2. I'm so glad to find another Powell enthusiast - he's one of my top favorites, too! I've read just about everything he wrote except The Fisher King and Afternoon Men. Don't know why I'm keeping those in reserve - guess I just like knowing there are still delights to be had!

  3. Yes, Psmith, since the whole desert island thing is imaginary, I figure there is leeway in how one defines the "book" to take along. :)

    Joy -- I know you are a Powell fan because I have read some of your wonderful posts. I am jealous that you have read almost all of them. I have more to look forward to, I suppose, but a lot of these are hard to find, and expensive if I can find them.

  4. I've been thinking about doing A Dance to The Music of Time tempting!

  5. I also want to add -- I really like the picture with the cat!


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