Paul Potts (writer)

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Paul Hugh Howard Potts (19 July 1911 – 26 August 1990), a British-born poet who lived in British Columbia in his youth,[1][2] was the author of Dante Called You Beatrice (1960), a memoir of unrequited love.[3]

Born in Datchet, Berkshire[4] to (Arthur George) Howard Potts (1869-1918), who had emigrated to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where he was a partner in a bakery and confectionery business,[5] and his Irish wife Julia Helen Kavanagh (also recorded as Cavanagh),[6] Potts was educated in Canada, England (at Stonyhurst until the age of sixteen[7]) and Italy (at a Jesuit college in Florence),[8] but from the early 1930s he lived in London. He frequented the Soho-Fitzrovia area where he would sell broadsheet copies of his poetry in the streets and pubs.[9][10] Arthur Potts's father, Dr Walter Jeffery Potts (1837-1898),[11] had married Julia, daughter of Sir Thomas Branthwaite Beevor, 3rd Baronet;[12] many descendants with the name 'Beevor-Potts' live in Canada.[13][14][15]

Among Potts's literary friends were George Orwell and the English poet George Barker.[16][17][18] Potts's memoir of Orwell, "Don Quixote on a Bicycle", appeared in The London Magazine in 1957[19][20] and became a chapter of Dante Called You Beatrice. His 1948 essay “The World of George Barker” appeared in Poetry Quarterly.[21]

In late middle-age, Potts was '...balding' with 'a stutter that he mixed with rapid blinking and an amused chuckle as he started a sentence', eventually becoming a dissolute figure 'barred from Soho pubs'.[22] Potts died in 1990 of smoke inhalation from a fire in his bedroom; he had been house-bound for some years by this time.[23]

Bibliography[edit]

  • (1940) A Poet's Testament, with drawings by Cliff Bayliss and Scott MacGregor, foreword by Hugh MacDiarmid
  • (1944) Instead of a Sonnet (enlarged 1978)
  • (1960) Dante Called You Beatrice
  • (1970) To Keep A Promise
  • (1973) Invitation to a Sacrament
  • (2006) Ronald Caplan (ed.), George Orwell's Friend: Selected Writings by Paul Potts

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Paul Potts, Dante Called You Beatrice, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960
  2. ^ Potts is often called a Canadian, for example by Ronald Caplan in George Orwell's Friend which has him "born in British Columbia", but other sources - including the Times obituary - give his birthplace as Datchet in the UK.
  3. ^ Paul Potts, Dante Called You Beatrice, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960
  4. ^ Datchet was at that time in Buckinghamshire
  5. ^ British Columbia Gazette, 1909, pg 3070
  6. ^ Paul Potts, Dante Called You Beatrice, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960
  7. ^ Dante Called You Beatrice, Paul Potts, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960, pg 25
  8. ^ The Visva-bharati Quarterly, volume 31, issue 2, 1965, pg 131
  9. ^ "Paul Potts - Obituary", The Times, London, 29 August 1990
  10. ^ Peter Stothard, "Soho, ring-marked and a little soiled", TLS blog, 2 March 2008, retrieved 7 February 2013
  11. ^ Imperial Vancouver Island: Who Was Who, 1850-1950, J. F. Bosher, 2010, pg 134
  12. ^ A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire, Sir Bernard Burke, 31st Edition, volume 1, 1869, pg 88
  13. ^ Imperial Vancouver Island: Who Was Who, 1850-1950, J. F. Bosher, 2010, pg 135
  14. ^ Dante Called You Beatrice, Paul Potts, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1960, pg 28
  15. ^ The Tormented Prince, J. Leigh Hirst, Brimstone Press, 2012, pg 1
  16. ^ Taylor, D. J., Orwell: The Life, Henry Holt and Company, 2003, passim
  17. ^ Meyers, Jeffrey (ed.), Introduction to George Orwell, Routledge, 1975, p.20
  18. ^ Crick, Bernard. George Orwell: A Life, Penguin, 1982, passim
  19. ^ Rodden, John, George Orwell: The Politics of Literary Reputation, Oxford University Press, 1989, rev. 2002, pp 128-129
  20. ^ Rodden, John, The Unexamined Orwell, University of Texas Press, 2011, p.222
  21. ^ Warren, Richard, "Paul Potts on ‘The World of George Barker’", nd, blog post; retrieved 12 February 2013
  22. ^ The Arms of the Infinite: Elizabeth Smart and George Barker, Christopher Barker, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010, pg 181
  23. ^ The Arms of the Infinite: Elizabeth Smart and George Barker, Christopher Barker, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010, pg 181

Further reading[edit]