Powers, Alan 1955-

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POWERS, Alan 1955-

PERSONAL: Born February 5, 1955, in London, England; son of Michael (an architect) and Frances (Wilson) Powers; married Susanna Curtis (a proofreader), January 10, 1982; children: Eleanor, William. Education: Clare College, Cambridge, B.A., 1977, Ph.D., 1983. Religion: Church of England.

ADDRESSES: Home—99 Judd St., London WC1H 9NE, England.

CAREER: Freelance writer, 1982—. Judd Street Gallery, director, 1985-91; Art Workers Guild, honorary librarian, 1985—; Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture, librarian, 1993—.

MEMBER: Thirties Society (honorary case work officer, 1981-91), Twentieth Century Society, Victorian Society, Georgian Group, Society of Architectural Historians.


(With C. Aslet) The National Trust Book of the English House, Viking (London, England), 1985.

H. S. Goodhart-Rendel, Architectural Association, 1987.

Oliver Hill: Architect and Lover of Life, 1887-1968, Mouton (London, England), 1989.

Shop-Fronts, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1989.

Modern Block-Printed Textiles, Walker Books (London, England), 1992.

In the Line of Development, Heinz Gallery, 1992.

(Author of analysis) Donal O'Donovan, God's Architect: A Life of Raymond McGrath, Kilbride Books (Bray, England), 1995.

(With others) Charles Reilly and the Liverpool School of Architecture, 1904-1933 (catalogue), Liverpool University Press (Liverpool, England), 1996.

Nature in Design, Conran Octopus (London, England), 1999, Sterling (New York, NY), 2002.

Living with Books, Soma Books (San Francisco, CA), 1999.

Living with Pictures, Mitchell Beazley (London, England), 2000.

Front Cover: Great Book Jackets and Cover Design, Mitchell Beazley (London, England), 2001.

(Editor, with Elain Harwood) Twentieth Century Architecture 5: Festival of Britain and Brief City, Twentieth Century Society (London, England), 2001.

Children's Book Covers: Great Book Jacket and Cover Design, Mitchell Beazley (London, England), 2003.

Eric Ravilious, VHPS (New York, NY), 2004.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Francis Pollen, Architect; Architecture in Britain, 1890-1940; research on mural painting in Britain since 1900.

SIDELIGHTS: The old saying about judging a book by its cover comes under new scrutiny with Alan Powers. He published Front Cover: Great Book Jackets and Cover Design in 2001; the work examines what in America is often called the dust jacket and in England the wrapper. These are accoutrements that "have often been discarded as temporary, resulting in the loss of graphic design characteristics of their times," reported Anne Marie Lane in Library Journal. The jacket design in Powers's view, however, serves an important purpose in getting across a book's intentions. He covers several eras in design, from the birth of modernism to the emergence of the digital age.

In his Spectator review of Front Cover, Bevis Hillier began by calling the book "a disappointment." Elaborating, Hillier noted that while he believes that jackets "should almost always be a miniposter, shrieking across the bookshop, 'Buy me!,'" Powers's view is that cover art can "stand out," as the author noted, "by speaking quietly amidst a lot of noise as readily as by shouting in a void." Hillier also contended that the author, "when he lets himself off the leash, … writes with a lot of style."

Alan Powers told CA: "My academic background is in art history, but I am seldom satisfied for long by sedentary scholarship; hence, my involvement in architectural conservation, printmaking, running my own gallery for five years, and writing. I am looking for synthesis in architecture that lies beyond the stylistic division of modern and traditional."



Architectural Review, March, 2002, Rob Gregory, review of Twentieth Century Architecture 5: Festival of Britain and Brief City, p. 96.

Books, August, 1989, review of Shop-Fronts, p. 19.

Entertainment Weekly, December 7, 2001, review of Front Cover: Great Book Jackets and Cover Design, p. 98.

Library Journal, May 15, 1999, review of Living with Books, p. 95; January 1, 2001, Gayle Williams, review of Living with Pictures, p. 104; January, 2002, Anne Marie Lane, review of Front Cover, p. 97.

Spectator, August 19, 1989, review of Shop-Fronts, p. 24; September 22, 2001, Bevis Hillier, review of Front Cover, p. 39.

Times Literary Supplement, December 4, 1992, review of Modern Block-Printed Textiles, p. 26.*