Jim Powell was born in London on 17 May 1949 and was educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he has a Masters degree in History. In November 2018, he was awarded a doctorate by the University of Liverpool for his thesis on the effect of the American Civil War on the British raw cotton trade. He is the great-great-great grandson of the 19th century satirical novelist Thomas Love Peacock.
After university, Jim went into advertising, initially with Wasey Campbell-Ewald and later with Michael Bungey DFS, where he became Managing Director in 1981. Leaving advertising in 1983, he set up a pottery business (Holdenby Designs Ltd) with Suzanne Katkhuda, a leading ceramic designer. The company had factories in Northamptonshire and Stoke-on-Trent and produced hand-painted tableware for major stores in London and around the world. A selection of Suzanne’s designs for the company is now exhibited in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Jim was active in politics for many years, helping Francis Pym and Leon Brittan with election campaigns and collaborating with Francis Pym on his best-selling 1984 book The Politics of Consent. He contested the 1987 General Election in Coventry, losing to Geoffrey Robinson, and was later Deputy Leader of Daventry District Council.
When the perpetual losses of the pottery business had their inevitable result, he supported himself as a business consultant and started to write. The Breaking of Eggs was his first published novel, and led to his inclusion amongst the ‘12 of the Best New Novelists’, chosen by BBC2’s ‘The Culture Show’ in March 2011. Trading Futures was his second published novel. Things We Nearly Knew was his third.
Jim’s interests include music, football, cricket, history and France. Among the random curiosities of his life, he has co-written and appeared in a pilot comedy series for the BBC, worked as an office boy for the Beatles, been taught by Simon Schama, produced personalised 70th birthday plates for Sir Terence Conran, qualified as a county football referee, been one of the first interviewees of Jeremy Paxman, recorded songs with one of the Seekers and been on a bicycle ride with Peter Sellers.
He hibernates near Huntingdon, England, with his wife Kay (who, by great fortune, is an experienced editor, as well as the author of What Not to Write, a concise guide to written English, published under the name of Kay Sayce). They spend most of the summer gazing at the Pyrenees from their farmhouse in the Tarn, in France, and pretending to work.