Paul Potts (writer)

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This article is about the author of Dante Called You Beatrice. For the British tenor, see Paul Potts. For the genocidal leader of Cambodia, see Pol Pot.

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]