Minnesota Author Biographies.

J. F. Powers

J. F. Powers

From Morte D'Urban (1962) by J. F. Powers

It had been a lucky day for the Order of St Clement the day Mr Billy Cosgrove entered the sacristy of a suburban church after Mass and shook the hand of Father Urban. Billy, a powerful-looking man in his fifties, hairy of wrist and sunburned (from golf and sailing, Father Urban would discover), had warmly praised the sermon--in which Father Urban had roared and whispered and crooned about Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola and Clement of Blois and Louis of France and Edward of England and Charles of the Holy Roman Empire--it was he who, you might say, owned and operated Europe but who, in the end, desired only the society of monks--it was he who rehearsed his own funeral, lay down in his coffin, joined in the prayers for the repose of his soul, mingled his tears with those of his attendants--it was he who rose from his coffin in good health, retired to his chambers, and was seized by a fever from which he very soon died...and the wonder was that Father Urban could go on in this high he-who manner without minimizing in the least the importance of becoming a penny-ante benefactor of the Order of St Clement.

Biographical Notes

Birth: July 8, 1917, Jacksonville, Illinois
Death: June 12, 1999, Collegeville, Minnesota

Author James Farl Powers studied at Quincy College Academy, Wright Junior College, and Northwestern University in Chicago from 1935-41. He spent thirteen months in jail as a conscientious objector for refusing to join the military in World War II. Many of his writings touch on aspects of the Catholic Church. He briefly taught creative writing at St. John's University in 1947, then taught creative writing at several other universities, and returned to St. John's University and the College of Saint Benedict as Regents Professor of English and writer-in-residence from 1975-93. His short story, "Lions, Harts, Leaping Does" (1943), was selected for inclusion in the O. Henry Prize Stories of 1944. His first novel, Morte d’Urban (1962), won the National Book Award in 1963. His second novel, Wheat that Springeth Green (1988), received a National Book Award nomination for fiction in 1988). Powers also received the Wethersfield Institute Award for outstanding literary achievement in 1989 and an honorary Litt.D. from St. John’s University in 1989.

Selected Works
The titles below link to the catalog record in MnPALS, the Minnesota Historical Society’s library catalog. Please click on your browser's back button to return.

Cross Country. St. Paul, Home of the Saints.
Lions, Harts, Leaping Does, and Other Stories
Look How the Fish Live
Morte d'Urban
The Old Bird, A Love Story
The Presence of Grace
The Prince of Darkness and Other Stories
Wheat that Springeth Green

Additional Resources

Minnesota Historical Society Links

• Search MNHS Library and Archives Catalog for author - Searches for works by this author in the Minnesota Historical Society’s library
Minnesota Historical Society Collections Online
J.F. Powers by Fallon Evans and Thomas Merton.
J.F. Powers by John V. Hagopian

Web Links

J. F. Powers at Saint John’s by John Rosengren

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