Jim Powell obituary


My stepfather, Jim Powell, who has died aged 74 of continual obstructive pulmonary illness, loved a profession in promoting and likewise ran his personal pottery enterprise for 20 years earlier than reaching success as a novelist and historian later in life.

On the publication of his first novel, The Breaking of Eggs, in 2010, when he was 61, he was chosen as one in every of 12 Finest New Novelists by BBC Two’s Tradition Present. He went on to write down two extra novels, Buying and selling Futures (2016) and Issues We Almost Knew (2018). On the time of his dying, he had simply accomplished a fourth, Whereas the Music Lasts, charting the previous half century by way of interlocking lives of a gaggle of acquaintances in opposition to the backdrop of the socio-political modifications of the interval.

Born in London to James Powell, a solicitor, and his spouse, Fiona (nee Michell-Clarke), Jim was educated at Charterhouse faculty in Surrey and studied historical past at Trinity Corridor, Cambridge, graduating in 1971. He narrowly missed turning into president of the Cambridge Union to Arianna Stassinopoulos, later co-founder of the Huffington Submit. Throughout one college trip he labored as an workplace boy for the Beatles at their Apple places of work in Savile Row, London.

After Cambridge, he joined a London promoting company, Wasey Campbell Ewald. There he managed profitable accounts, together with New Zealand lamb. Aged simply 31 he was appointed managing director of the Michael Bungey company.

Jim had all the time mentioned he wouldn’t stay in promoting for ever, and within the mid-Nineteen Eighties he arrange a pottery enterprise, Holdenby Designs, in Northamptonshire and Stoke-on-Trent, manufacturing ceramic tableware by designers together with Suzanne Katkhuda, Carol Dunstan and Rachel Barker, and promoting it in Europe and south-east Asia.

A few of the designs are on show within the Victoria & Albert Museum. He continued within the enterprise till the early 2000s.

Jim served for about 10 years as a Conservative member of Daventry district council, and he additionally joined the Samaritans. He helped his good friend Francis Pym, the previous international secretary, together with his e book The Politics of Consent (1984). In 1987 Jim stood as Conservative candidate for Coventry North West within the basic election. In subsequent years, nevertheless, his disenchantment with the course of Conservative celebration drove him leftwards.

In 2012, Jim married the author and editor Kay Sayce, gaining two step-daughters, Emma and me, and subsequently 4 step-grandchildren. The Powells divided their time between their dwelling in Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, and a farmhouse in south-west France.

Jim’s great-grandmother was the daughter of the novelist and poet Thomas Love Peacock. His analysis on her life led to the invention of the household’s involvement within the cotton commerce within the nineteenth century; he turned his analysis right into a PhD thesis, accomplished for Liverpool College in 2018 and a paper, Shedding the Thread: Cotton, Liverpool and the American Civil Struggle (Liverpool College Press, 2021), which was lauded by historians within the area.

Along with studying and writing, he loved his 4 small grandchildren, cookery (particularly wealthy puddings), researching his household historical past and usually being with folks and taking advantage of life.

He’s survived by Kay, Emma and me, and by his step-grandchildren.


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