George Ernest John Powell was born on the 10th of February 1842. Born into a politically influential Cardiganshire family, he was brought up on the family estate of Nanteos, near Aberystwyth. He received his education at Eton, and at Brasenose College, Oxford.
Powell lived the life of a gentleman. He travelled widely through North Africa and Europe, especially Iceland. He was a great collector, and acquired pieces both at home and abroad. He also closely followed literary and musical trends and his interests led him to make several interesting connections, developing friendships with such famous figures as A C Swinburne and H W Longfellow. Powell also published a variety of material during his lifetime, including three volumes of his own poetry, and a translation of Icelandic legends completed in conjunction with Eirikr Magnusson.
Powell's travels, along with his poor relationship with his father, W T R Powell, meant that he remained largely absent from Nanteos whilst a young man. On his father's death in 1878, he inherited Nanteos, and returned home. In 1880, he was appointed High Sheriff of Cardigan, and the following year, on the 10th of May, he married Dinah T Harries, of Goodwick, Pembrokeshire. After only a year of marriage, on the 17th of October 1882, he died childless, and is buried in the churchyard at Llanbadarn Fawr, near Aberystwyth.