In a book of reminiscences, The Edge Of The Woods, she evoked her memories of the Powys brothers and well remembered that:
John was a famous lecturer. No one ever saw a more fiery delivery on any stage. It is no exaggeration that he had frightened some of his audiences. Brillant as he was, and picturesque, he could be dangerously lewd. A few ladies had been seen to rise and indignantly depart.
His vocabulary and imagery were incomparable. He was poet, philosopher, writer and scholar and, as E.E. Cummings had called him, the greatest actor on any stage. Estlin had such respect for him that if they happened to meet on the street, he'd step off the side-walk and let him pass. This would sometimes happen when John Powys and Phyllis Playter were living in the apartment above him on Patchin Place. Of course it was all part of Estlin's superb mimicry, and he would invariably make us laugh.
When I first heard John Powys lecture it was in Aeolian Hall. It was about Thomas Hardy and he found it difficult to begin because of their intimate friendship. We were afraid that in his dramatic ways he'd break down. He wore a black gown, given him by Miss Spence, the headmistress of a girl's school in New York. He paced nervously back and forth, his robe flying behind him. At last, pulling himself together, his rush of words filled us with rapture. Suddenly having switched to a word about Thackeray, he shouted at us in his rich English voice, 'I suppose that Vaa-nity Fa-ar is the greatest novel ever written but I don't like it!'
When he came to lecture in Rochester we invited him to dine with us. His talk was about the ten books he would take with him to his Desert Island. His favorite play was King Lear, he said, admonishing us in case we had not read it recently or at all!
During the Second World War he left with Miss Playter for Merioneth in Wales. When he wrote me from their small one-room stone house, I felt a desire to communicate with him, and among other packages of food we were all sending our friends, I would always include tins of his favorite tea, difficult for them to procure in England. He wrote me in ecstasy of this, his elixir! Just before he died he sent me one of his favorite little books, The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, with an inscription in his dashing uphill handwriting on the flyleaf and a poem:
For Hildegarde and Sibley Watson
from John Cowper Powys
and Phyllis Playter Xmas 1957
'Blow winds and crash your cheeks !
Rage, blow you hurricanes !'
So cried King Lear; more gently murmur I,
While the winds howl
Our little book will fly.
(From 'What They Said about the Powyses', Robin Patterson & Paul Roberts, The Powys Newsletter37, July 1999.)