We spent four days last weekend running what is turning into a major literary conference: the Biennial Anthony Powell Conference, organised by the Anthony Powell Society of which I am Hon. Secretary. So that means I'm the one who does all the work and carries the can.
This is the sixth conference we have run, and the fifth for which I have been the lead organiser (the exception was 2009 in Washington, DC where I still did a lot of the work). All of them have been different and each has been stunning in its own way.
But for me this one surpassed all the others. 100 delegates. 15 papers of different types plus three keynotes over two days of plenary sessions at the Naval & Military Club in London's St James's Square. A reception with charity auction which raised almost £1000 – which was at least twice what I had expected (the money goes to pay for a plaque in London to commemorate Powell). A coach tour of London followed by Sunday lunch. Then on Monday a few of us spent the day in Eton, still looking at Powell connections. All with a fantastic, friendly set of people.
Four long and tiring days. But wonderfully exhilarating days despite the odd gripes (well you can't please everyone all the time). This is some of what the delegates said:
This is my fifth conference this summer and has been far and away the bestDid we make a profit? Don't know yet as I haven't got all the bills in, but we'll not be far off at least breaking even (which is all we aim to do).
Superb organization and time-keeping
Congratulations on a really splendid conference
Themes very well thought out, complementing each other
The setting was perfect
Excellent venue and organisation coupled with lots of friendly and interesting people
Great work all round; congratulations
Reminded me how much I enjoy Powell’s writings
And I didn't have time to take a single photo! But here I am (in blue shirt), in the sumptuous surroundings of the Naval & Military Club, playing at being auctioneer (photo by Graham & Dorothy Davie).
Now I wonder if I can get enough lie-ins before doing it all again in 2013?