Powell was born in Boston, and educated at Amherst College. He was on the staff of the Journal of Commerce and the Herald in Boston. He was a successful theatrical manager, and among the persons whom he trained for the stage was Charlotte Cushman. He appeared in a number of English and Irishtheaters, and produced a successful play, Virginius, and a number of dramas and burlesques. He was the author of Poems (1837); Book of the Drama (1851); Memoirs of James Gordon Bennett and his Times; and other works.