Powers, J.F.

J.F. Powers (James Farl Powers) was born on July 8th, 1917, in Jacksonville, Illinois, USA, and was married to the writer Betty Wahl.

J.F. Powers
J.F. Powers. Courtesy of Minnesota Writers' Project

He published his first stories in The Catholic Worker and, as a pacifist, spent thirteen months in prison during World War II.

According to his daughter Katherine A. Powers in an essay for Éire-Ireland, he was from stock that was as much German as Irish. He was, however, overwhelmingly drawn to Ireland aesthetically, intellectually, and spiritually. He admired twentieth-century Irish writing, and, above all, James Joyce’s Ulysses.
He and his family spent several periods in Ireland after the war: November 1951–November 1952; October 1957–November 1958; Autumn 1963–Summer 1965; and Autumn 1966–Late summer 1975.

His short story collections are Prince of Darkness and Other Stories (New York, Doubleday and Co, 1947); The Presence of Grace (New York, Doubleday and Co, 1956); and Look How the Fish Live (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1975).

His novels are Morte D’Urban (New York, Doubleday and Co, 1962), which was awarded the National Book Award, 1963; and Wheat that Springeth Green (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), which was nominated for the National Book Award and for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

His stories and novels have been reprinted by the New York Review of Books.

His daughter, the artist Mary Farl Powers (1948-1992), was a member of Aosdána. His daughter Jane Powers is a garden writer and photographer and writes a regular column for The Irish Times.

J.F.Powers died on June 12th, 1999 in Collegeville, Minnesota.

*Listed because of strong association with Ireland.

Books by J.F. Powers at NYRB