Violet Powell

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Lady Violet Powell
Lady Violet and Anthony Powell on their wedding day in 1934.
Lady Violet and Anthony Powell on their wedding day in 1934.
BornLady Violet Georgiana Pakenham
13 March 1912
Died12 January 2002(2002-01-12) (aged 89)
OccupationWriter, critic
GenreMemoir, biography
(m. 1934; died 2000)
Children2, including Tristram Powell

Lady Violet Georgiana Powell (née Pakenham; 13 March 1912 – 12 January 2002) was a British writer and critic. Her husband was the author Anthony Powell.

Life and career[edit]

Lady Violet was the third daughter of Thomas Pakenham, 5th Earl of Longford, and the former Lady Mary Child-Villiers, daughter of Victor Child-Villiers, 7th Earl of Jersey. She was educated at St Margaret's School, Bushey.[1]

Lady Violet was a member of a literary family; her brothers were Edward Pakenham and Frank Pakenham, while her sisters included the novelist and biographer Lady Pansy Lamb and the historian Lady Mary Clive. She was herself a distinguished memoirist and biographer. Her The Life of a Provincial Lady (1988), on the life of E. M. Delafield, has been called by the scholar Nicholas Birns "one of the best literary biographies of a British writer in the twentieth century".[2] Those who knew the couple well believed that Lady Violet made significant contributions to the richness, depth and polish of her husband's work.[2] She also wrote a biography of the English novelist Flora Annie Steel.[3]


She is generally taken to be the model for the character of Isobel Tolland in her husband's novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time.[1]


Some of her books are:

  • The Album of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time
  • A Compton-Burnett Compendium
  • A Jane Austen Compendium: The Six Major Novels
  • The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy, 1896–1967
  • Flora Annie Steel: Novelist of India
  • The Irish Cousins: The Books and Background of Somerville and Ross
  • The Life of a Provincial Lady: A Study of E.M. Delafield and Her Works
  • Margaret, Countess of Jersey: A Biography
  • A Substantial Ghost: The Literary Adventures of Maude ffoulkes


  1. Five Out of Six: An Autobiography (a reference to her birth order amongst her siblings)
  2. Within the Family Circle: An Autobiography
  3. The Departure Platform: An Autobiography
  4. A Stone in the Shade: Last Memoirs[4]

Personal life[edit]

She married Anthony Powell (21 December 1905 – 28 March 2000) on 1 December 1934 at All Saints Anglican Church, Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge; they had two children, Tristram and John.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Lady Violet Powell". The Daily Telegraph. 15 January 2002. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b Nicholas Birns, Understanding Anthony Powell (2004), p. 7
  3. ^ Mannsaker, Frances M. (Autumn 1982). "Flora Annie Steel, Novelist of India by Violet Powell". Victorian Studies. 26 (1): 105–106. JSTOR 3827506.
  4. ^ Taylor, D.J. (10 August 2013). "A Stone in the Shade, by Violet Powell – review". The Spectator. Retrieved 15 September 2014.