Powell, Anthony

Powell, Anthony pō´əl [key], 1905–2000, English novelist, grad. Eton and Baillol College, Oxford. A distinguished writer of social comedy, he is best known for his 12-volume novel sequence collectively entitled A Dance to the Music of Time, a detailed yet panoramic study of the bohemian world of England in the 1920s and 30s and of the changes in the snobbish, insular world of the English upper classes from World War I to the early 1970s, with most of the many characters based on people Powell knew. Novels in this comedy of manners series include A Question of Upbringing (1951), The Acceptance World (1955), Casanova's Chinese Restaurant (1960), The Valley of Bones (1964), The Military Philosophers (1969), Books Do Furnish a Room (1971), and Hearing Secret Harmonies (1975). Powell's other novels include Afternoon Men (1931), From a View to a Death (1933), and The Fisher King (1986); other works include a study of John Aubrey (1948), four volumes of memoirs (1976–82; abr. ed. To Keep the Ball Rolling, 2001), Journals, 1982–92 (3 vol., 1995–97), two collections of essays on writing (1990; 1991, rev. ed. 1994), and two plays (1972). He was a literary critic for The Times Literary Supplement and The Daily Telegraph and literary editor of Punch.

See biographies by N. F. Brennan (rev. ed. 1995), M. Barber (2004), and H. Spurling (2017); studies by R. K. Morris (1968), B. Bergonzi (rev. ed. 1971), J. Tucker (1976), H. Spurling (1977), N. McEwan (1991), R. L. Selig (1991), and N. Birns (2004); bibliography ed. by G. P. Lilley (1993).

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