In 1931, after two decades of wandering the world, Llewelyn Powys moved into an isolated cliff-top cottage in Dorset, where he embarked on a series of essays embracing what he called 'the poetry of life'. In their evocations of land and sea, of childhood and old age, of wildlife, chance meetings and remembered conversations, they are a poignant love letter to the English countryside.
Stimulated by history and legend, indeed by the very smell of the earth, Powys engages us with the natural world in a spirit of unflinching honesty. A true countryman and sharp-eyed observer, his writings range from the habits of the hedgehog to the daily round of the ploughman, from the healing power of landscape to the aquatic life of a pond. Part manifesto for the life-enhancing power of nature, part a philosophy for living formed by bitter-sweet experience, all these writings in Earth Memories are underpinned by the 'miracle' of being alive, and a belief that the enjoyment of nature is the birthright of us all.
"Powys consolidated his reputation as a charismatic observer of the natural world"
– Michael Caines, Times Literary Supplement
"These essays celebrate the life of the spirit – not by turning to an otherworldly realm, or retreating into the shadowy depths of the mind, but by standing still and looking anew at the sun and rain and the changing seasons. As Powys shows, the human spirit is reborn when it sees the natural world as it actually is – a spectacle of inexhaustible beauty."
– John Gray
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Llewelyn Powys was born in Dorchester, Dorset, the eighth child in a family that included the novelists John Cowper Powys and T. F. Powys. He grew up in Somerset, and was educated at Sherborne School and Cambridge University. At 25 he contracted tuberculosis and spent many years abroad in drier climates. He first made his name as a writer with Black Laughter and Skin for Skin, and spent most of the 1930s in England writing for numerous journals, gathering some of his pieces into the collections Earth Memories, Dorset Essays and Somerset Essays. With these he established a reputation as one of the most eloquent and thought-provoking writers of his time. His last three years were spent in Switzerland where he finished his autobiographical novel Love and Death, published shortly before he died. His ashes are interred on a Dorset cliff top and marked by a memorial stone.