POWELL (ANTHONY) Series of over sixty typed and autograph letters signed ("Tony"), plus over sixty cards (mostly picture postcards depicting subjects of varying degrees of drollness); the letters charting the progress of each of the twelve novels of his Dance to the Music of Time sequence, 1950-1974

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Lot 377
Series of over sixty typed and autograph letters signed ("Tony"), plus over sixty cards (mostly picture postcards depicting subjects of varying degrees of drollness); the letters charting the progress of each of the twelve novels of his Dance to the Music of Time sequence, 1950-1974

£ 2,000 - 3,000
US$ 2,600 - 3,900
Series of over sixty typed and autograph letters signed ("Tony"), plus over sixty cards (mostly picture postcards depicting subjects of varying degrees of drollness); the letters charting the progress of each of the twelve novels of his Dance to the Music of Time sequence, namely: A Question of Upbringing ("...Heinemann's are bringing out a novel of mine which will, I hope, appear in the Autumn... ...It seems to have annoyed the Oxford Mail and the Cambridge News a great deal..."), A Buyer's Market ("...My new novel is booked for May... It is to be called A Buyer's Market, and is set in the year 1928 or thereabouts..."), The Acceptance World ("...In principle I find this place [The Chantry to which he had just moved] rather good for work, but actually I am pretty stuck in vol III. I have done about thirty thousand and really can think of nothing to say..."), At Lady Molly's ("...am still in the forty-thousand stage. Going very slowly, but fairly solidly... ...I think Lady Molly was a bit better than the last, but nothing very different..."), Casanova's Chinese Restaurant ("...Casanova has had quite a good press..."), The Kindly Ones ("...I get a certain number of complaining reviews that people who come in late don't know what is happening, but I can't think matters much in that sort of book. I've done about forty-thousand of a new one, but that gives rather an exaggerated idea of how far its got, as it will stop just short of the war, which will be going on when the seventh vol starts. As one goes on, new problems arise all the time..."), The Valley of Bones ("...The Valley of Bones comes out about the 2nd or 3rd of March. I just hit the hump of Christmas as regards getting it out earlier..."), The Soldier's Art ("...If you had any minor points about army life you wanted emphasised do let me know, as I'm grappling with the next one, and always like to have ideas... ...still a fair amount to do, as there are various technical points I can't decide just how to finish it for one thing... ...The new novel The Soldier's Art comes out on the 12 September..."), The Military Philosophers ("...I am now embarking on the War Office one, which is going to be full of difficulties... ...I'm still hard at work on the new one – about halfway through, I hope, but endless complications... ..done about two-thirds of a new one, but in a pretty good mess still..."), Books Do Furnish a Room ("...I am at about fifty-thousand, but that sounds much better than is actually the case, as there is an awful lot of work still to do... ...The idea is to do a couple more, probably bringing the last one right up to date, but it's hard to tell until one gets to it..."), Temporary Kings ("...I've reached about 40,000 with the new one, but not sure about the title yet, and still a lot of work to be done. It takes place in 1958, so there's a ten year gap between it and the last..."), and Hearing Secret Harmonies ("...I have done about 40,000 of the new one, which hasn't got a title yet, and I've no idea when it will be finished. As you can imagine, there is even more technical work to do than usual, owing to it being the last one..."); there are also a good many comments on their friends and contemporaries, including Evelyn Waugh, with whom he stayed in 1951 ("...The Waugh visit went off very well. Evelyn was in the best possible form and food and drink flowed, though I must say the sense of tension is pretty acute all the time. Every single object in the house had been bought because it is 'amusing' which is rather unrestful as you may imagine...") and later sightings ("...I saw Evelyn W the other night who had been hitting the bottle pretty hard..."), plus comments on his books ("...I thought Officers and Gents full of technical faults and failings but was never actually bored. In a kind of way I prefer that sort of Evelyn to something very finished like the Loved One..."), news of his death ("...It was indeed sad about Evelyn, though I suppose for him to come back from church on Easter Day and go to sleep in his chair was just the sort of thing he would have chosen – quiet yet dramatic. I can't say I was altogether surprised after my last view of him..."), Sykes's biography ("...I was surprised how horrified everyone was at hearing of EW on his less attractive side. One was so used to stories about him that one assumed everyone else knew how bloody he could be when in the mood...") and his own reminiscences ("...I have some plans to write some sort of an autobiography after I've finished the M of T, and (if I'm spared) I shall deal with EW against the larger background..."); Heygate, like Powell himself, was clearly an avid reader, and Powell is not shy of making recommendations ("...Do you know V.S. Naipaul's books? He is Trinidad Indian and good, and I think, also a very nice chap..."), while being mildly flattered by Heygate's book-collecting activities, which take in his own oeuvre ("...I might amuse you to hear that some of my 1st editions came up at Sotheby's last week and fetched quite decent prices, an Afternoon Men, with jacket, inscribed to Michael Salaman, going for £38..."), over 120 pages, many with envelopes, some foxing to the earlier letters, 4to and 8vo, 1950-1974


  • 'HEINEMANN'S ARE BRINGING OUT A NOVEL OF MINE WHICH WILL, I HOPE, APPEAR IN THE AUTUMN' – Anthony Powell charts the progress of his masterpiece, A Dance to the Music of Time; as well as – in the manner of the novels themselves – furnishing a running commentary on the doings and foibles of their contemporaries, including, in the first letter, their fellow Old Etonian Eric Blair: "We had a rather harrowing time burying George Orwell, a certain amount of the funeral arrangements falling, for some unaccountable reason, on Malcom and myself. The funeral was actually in our parish church in Albany Street and was a rather depressing affair: more so than one really expected it would be as it was pretty clear that George was not going to recover, and really for him to go off quite suddenly in the night was much better than for it all to have happened in the aeroplane in which we were setting off to Switzerland the following week. I should think there were about fifty or sixty people in the church: quite a lot I didn't know. We had a small wake afterwards here...".

Saleroom notices

  • The recipient of all the letters is Sir John Heygate
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