Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

[Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen;] b. 7 June 1899, 15 Herbert Place, Dublin; only child of dg. Henry Cole Bowen of Bowen’s Court (Farahy, nr. Kildorrery [Cill Dairbhre], N. Co. Cork) and Florence [née Florence Isabella Pomeroy Colley] of Mount Temple, Clontarf (m. 1890); her father (BL, TCD), a victim of anxiety with a history of bad relations with his own father, who suffered mental breakdown and entered a home [asylum] in 1907; Elizabeth removed to England by her mother at seven (viz., ‘seven winters’), on the advice of her father’s doctor, 1907, living variously at Folkestone, Hythe (Erin Cottage), Lyminge (Erin Cottage), Seabrook; learns to read only at 7, on her mother’s theory of not straining her brain; ed. Lindum [primary school], Folkestone; interim of lessons with children of the vicar (Salmon); forms friendship with cousin Audrey Fiennes; recovery of her father, who resumes work as Land Purchase lawyer in Dublin, c.1910;
visits Bowen’s Court, summer 1912; suffers death of her mother, from cancer, at Hythe, following several operations, Sept. 1912 (EB aetat. 13); placed in charge of Laura Colley, whose br. was curate at St. John’s, Harpenden, Herts.; enrolled in Harpenden Hall as day-girl, Sept. 1912, being visited by her father there during holidays; travels to Cologne and Switzerland with her father and her guardians, 1913; becomes a boarder at Downe House School, Kent, Sept. 1914 (scene of ‘the mulberry tree’ where secrets were shared); enrolls in Central School for Arts and Crafts (Southampton Row), London, and stays two terms; participates in Bloomsbury society; stayed at Bowen’s Court with Henry and Aunt Sarah [Bowen, of Mitchelstown], summer 1916; Henry m. Mary Gwynn, sis. of Stephen Gwynn, 1918, staying in a Merrion St. flat; EB visits Bowen’s Court with Audrey during summers as before; enjoys parties at Bowen’s Court with Audrey, friends and some British officers; becomes briefly engaged to officer in nearby garrison, quickly broken off through intrusion of an aunt [Aunt Edie, Mrs. George Colley]; spends spring 1921 in Italy recovering;
contribs. story to Saturday Westminster; introduced to Rose Macaulay by her Downe House headmistress, and helped by her to find a publisher for a first story-collection, Encounters (1923); through Audrey’s mother [Mrs. Fiennes] meets Alan Charles Cameron (1893-1952), an ex-military Scottish educationalist and broadcaster, afterwards Sec. of Education to City of Oxford, 1923; m. Cameron, 4 Aug. 1923, settling at [Waldencote] Old Headington, Oxfordshire, afterwards becoming a solely companionate relationship; friends incl. the Buchans [son of Lord Tweedsmuir], Lord David Cecil, William Plomer, Maurice Bowra and Isiah Berlin - a life-long friend; issues Ann Lee’s and Other Stories (1927); contrib. to Lady Cynthia Asquith, ed., The Funny Bone (1928); issues The Hotel (1927), a novel set on the Italian Riviera and concerning Sydney Warren, a young woman who makes the wrong decision and breaks off her engagement; issued The Last September (1929) - ‘of all my books … nearest my heart’ - set in 1920 and centred on the character of Lois Farquar, torn between her own class and her sympathy for her Catholic neighbours the Conners, and ending when Danielstown House is burned down, its door standing ‘open hospitably upon a furnace’; Henry Bowen retires from bar, 1928;
enjoys increasing celebrity in London and Oxford; issues Joining Charles and Other Stories (1929); Henry falls ill, relapses into mental sickness, and dies May 1930; EB inherits Bowen’s Court, Co. Cork, 1930 [aetat. 31], hosting many parties there, with Virgnia Woolf, Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire, Rosamund Lehmann, Cyril Connolly and O’Faolain, and among the guests; clandestine love affair with Humphrey House (lecturer at Wadham Coll., Oxon.), then engaged and afterwards married; issues Friends and Relations (1931), a tale of marital confusions containing the adolescent horror, and later lesbian, Theodora Thirdman, an early example of the troubled child in her fiction; issues To the North (1932), the narrative of young Emmeline Summers’ doomed encounter with Markie, a barrister whom her sister-in-law Cecilia meets on a train, and featuring the interfering Lady Waters; issues The Cat Jumps (1934); contribs. reviews to New Statesman, Spectator, Times Literary Supplement, Observer, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Tatler, et al.; Humphry House visited Bowen’s Court in 1935 shortly prior to a move to Calcutta with his family;
issues The House in Paris (1935), dealing with an affair between two people, Karen and Max, who are each engaged to others, revealed during the sojourn of two displaced children, Leopold and Henrietta, the products of those confused relationships; Cameron appt. Sec. of Central Council of School Broadcasting (BBC), 1935; moves with him to 2 Clarence Tce., Regent’s Park, London; engaged in literary work in London, unavoidably refusing an invitation from Virginia Woolf, now a friend and correspondent (though occasionally perturbed by Elizabeth’s non-communication); moots love affair with a younger man, Goronwy Rees (ass. ed. at Spectator), who became engaged to Rosalind Lehmann at a hunt ball held at Bowen’s Court, Dec. 1936; ED attends Salzburg Fest., spring 1937; encounters Seán O’Faolain - who was coincidentally in Salzburg also - in Dublin, 1938, and embarks on a brief affair; ed. Faber Book of Modern Stories (1937), describing the ‘new literature’ as ‘an affair of reflexes, of immediate susceptibility’ and never apt to ‘attempt a synthesis’;
elected to MIAL, 1937; issued The Death of the Heart (1938), tracing the disillusionment of sixteen-year old Portia amid her London bemused relatives but chiefly at the hands of a ‘cad’ who disastrously fills the vacuum in her life; takes O’Faolain to meet Virginia Woolf at Tavistock Sq., 8 Feb.1939 (‘I wouldn’t ask if he were not so very nice’); gets Bowen’s Court wired for electricity, 1939 - this and other matters on the estate managed by Jim Gates a second-generation ‘local’ associated with the family; EB serves as an air warden [ARP] in 1939; volunteers for work with Ministry of Information and and writes confidential reports as “Mrs Cameron” on state of opinion in Ireland, travelling between London, Dublin and Bowen’s Court, while occupying a flat on St. Stephen’s Green; quotes views of Frank Gallagher, George O’Brien et al., while conveying her own toleration of Irish neutrality; contribs. “The Big House” to The Bell (Ist iss.; 1940), a plea for reconciliation the Irish and the Anglo-Irish traditions;
speaks of the ‘failure of the ’thirties generation to achieve greatness in its poems, plays and novels in “The Leaning Tower”, a paper given to the Workers’ Education Assoc., May 1940; visits Woolfs at Monk’s House, Rodmell, in Sussex (following the bombing of ; contribs. ‘Eire’, a distillation of her reports, to New Statesman and Nation (21 April 1941); meets and forms lasting friendship with Charles Ritchie [aetat. 35], a Canadian diplomat from Nova Scotia, 1941 - with whom she maintained close contact for thirty years, enabled by ‘compassionate’ marriages on either side; issued Look at All Those Roses (1941); issues Seven Winters: Memories of a Dublin Childhood (1942), initially with Cuala Press, and Bowen’s Court (1942), with Longmans, having been rejected by Jonathan Lane as ‘subversive’; undergoes unsuccessful treatment for stammer, 1942; issues English Novelists (1942); issues The Demon Lover (1945), a tale of the supernatural, with other stories; Clarence Tce. damaged by German V2 bomb, and vacated for repairs, July-Oct. 1944; expresses alienation from ‘Labour wets’ of post-war Britain, Sep. 1945 (letter to Wm. Plomer); contracts jaundice, 1945-Feb. 1946; reads Coleridge’s “Ancient Mariner” incessantly in bed;
Ritchie departs for Canada, early 1945, briefly returning to London in 1949; Bowen writes, with John Perry Castle Anna, a play (Lyric Hammersmith, 1946); commences broadcasting with BBC, 1946; awarded CBE 1948; serves as acting principal at summer-school for teachers, Kent Folkestone; Ritchie marries his second cousin Sylvia, largely for career reasons 1948; Bowen undertakes lecture tours in Czechoslovakia and Austria for British Council, 1948-50; dines with Greene in Vienna night-club where he arranges a police raid to amuse her (acc. to himself in A Sort of Life); issues The Heat of the Day (1949), a wartime novel commenced in 1944, concerning Stella Rodney’s affair with Robert Kelway, a man revealed to be spying for the Nazis by a British agent who propositions her as the price of his freedom; joins Graham Greene and V. S. Pritchett in Why Do I Write? (1948), a set of epistolary exchanges; profits from this novel enabled her to install bathrooms in Bowen’s Court; invested Commander, Order of the British Empire (CBE), 1948; served on Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, 1949-53, resulting in Abolition, 1953; received Hon. DLitt., TCD, 1949; Earliest Stories (new edn., NY Knopf 1949); issued Collected Impressions (1950); moved to Bowenscourt in 1951; EB becomes god-mother to the Spenders’ dg. Elizabeth;

Cameron suffers heart attack, 1951 - having semi-retired some time earlier with eye-trouble stemming from WWI gas attack; moves out of Clarence Tce., the lease passing to Louis MacNeice; returned with furniture to Bowen’s Court, after Christmas 1951, spending the first night in a Fermoy hotel; her style parodied in an issue of New Yorker, 1952; Alan Cameron d., 26 Aug. 1952; Veronica Wedgewood stays as guest at Bowen’s Court, winter 1953; EB visits Rome, and invites John Lehmann to Bowen’s Court [1954]; serves with others on editorial board of his London Magazine; writer in residence, American Academy, Rome, 1955; issues A World of Love (1955), an Irish novel centred on Jane Danby, a dg. of the big house, coming to terms with the changing reality of contemporary Ireland; holds Lucy Martin Donnelly Fellowship, Bryn Mawr, 1956; forms friendship with Iris Murdoch; receives DLitt (Oxon.), 1956 [vars. 1952, 1959]; sold Bowen’s Court to Cornelius O’Keefe, a farming neighbour, on the misapprehension that he would make it a family home, 1959; roof removed and house demolished, 1960 (‘It was a clean end. Bowen’s Court never lived to be a ruin’); moves into a flat in a house of Isaiah Berlin at Old Headington; wrote script for a 60-min. programme on Ireland in an American TV series, ‘The Twentieth Century”, produced by Isaac Kleinerman;

issues A Time in Rome (1960); issues Afterthought (1962) and The Little Girls (1964); moved into modern house which she called “Carbery” at Hythe, Kent, always keeping a room ready for Ritchie, 1965; issued A Day in the Dark (1965) and Eva Trout (US 1968) - of which A. N. Wilson wrote, ‘The book shimmers with life in every paragraph’, concerning the life and death of the title-character, a disturbed orphan and heiress who acquires a ‘son’ in America, and eventually dies by gunshot at his hand; issued The Good Tiger (1970), for children; suffered acute bronchitis, an effect of smoking; radium treatment, 1972; acted as Booker Prize judge from hospital; visited Ireland, Christmas 1972; returned to Hythe and d. in hospital, of lung cancer, 22 Feb. 1973; bur. with her husband Alan Cameron, in Farahy churchyard, obit. by Francis King - erroneously making Robert a Communist rather than a Fascist spy in Heat of the Day); Pictures and Conversations (1974), autobiographical sketches, appeared posthum. on her instructions; her agent Spencer Curtis Brown became her literary executor; her papers held at Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre (Texas U., Austin); see seemingly commissioned a portrait by Patrick Hennessy, whom she met at Fairyfield, the Kinsale summer home of Major Stephen and Lady Ursula Vernon. NCBE OCEL DIL DIW DIB KUN ATT FDA OCIL

Photo by Cecil Beaton Portrait by Patrick Hennessy (Crawford, Cork) Photo by Aaron Slim (1962)

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  • The Hotel (London: Constable 1927), [4], 314, [2]pp., ill. by by Norah McGuinness; Do. (NY: Dial Press 1928), 294pp.; Do. [Penguin Classics] (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1942), and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Vintage 2003), 208pp.;
  • The Last September (London: Constable; NY: Dial Press 1929; London: Jonathan Cape 1948; NY: Avon 1952; Penguin 1988 [see extract];
  • Friends and Relations (London: Constable; NY: Dial 1931); [also Jonathan Cape 1951], and Do. [rep. edn.] introduced by Candia McWilliam [Vintage Classics] (London: Vintage 1999), 159pp.;
  • To the North (London: Gollancz 1932 NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1933);
  • The House in Paris (London: Gollancz 1935; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1936; London: Jonathan Cape 1982); The Death of the Heart (London: Gollancz 1938) [FDA ERR 1935 &c.], and Do. [rep. edn.] introduction by Patricia Craig [Vintage Classics] (London: Vintage 1998), 318pp.;
  • Look at All Those Roses: Short Stories (London: Gollancz; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1941);
  • The Heat of the Day (London: Jonathan Cape 1949; rep. edn. 1982) [ded. Charles Ritchie], and Do. (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1949), 372pp. [see extract];
  • A World of Love (London: Jonathan Cape; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1955), 224pp. [ded. Catherine Collins];
  • The Little Girls (London: Jonathan Cape; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1964);
  • Eva Trout, or Changing Scenes (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1968; London: Jonathan Cape 1969);
  • The Shelbourne (London: Vintage 2001), 208pp.
Short Stories
  • Encounters (London: Sidgwick & Jackson 1923; NY: Boni & Liveright 1925);
  • Anne Lee’s and Other Short Stories (London: Sidgwick & Jackson 1926; NY: Boni & Liveright 1926);
  • Joining Charles and Other Stories (London: Constable; NY: Dial Press 1929);
  • The Cat Jumps and Other Stories (London: Gollancz 1934);
  • The Demon Lover and Other Stories (London: Jonathan Cape 1945) [extract], Do., publ. in America as Ivy Gripped the Steps (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1946);
  • Encounters: Early Stories [new edn.] London: Sidgwick & Jackson 1949), xiii, 178pp., and Do. [US edn.] as (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1951);
  • Stories by Elizabeth Bowen (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1959);
  • A Day in the Dark and Other Stories (London: Jonathan Cape 1965);
  • Victoria Glendinning, intro., Elizabeth Bowen’s Irish Stories (Dublin: Poolbeg 1978) [by arrangement with Jonathan Cape];
  • Angus Wilson, intro., The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen (London: Jonathan Cape 1980; NY: Knopf [1981]), 784pp., and Do. [rep. edns.] (London: Jonathan Cape 1981; 1985; 1999 &c.) [see contents];
  • Allan Hepburn, The Bazaar and Other Stories (2008), 384pp.
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  • English Novelists (London: W. Collins 1942); Seven Winters: Memories of a Dublin Childhood (Dublin: Cuala Press 1942; London: Longmans, Green 1943), Do., publ, in America as Seven Winters: Memories of a Dublin Childhood and Afterthoughts, Pieces on Writing (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1962) [see sep. printing infra];
  • with Graham Greene & V. S. Pritchett, Why Do I Write (London: Percival, Marshall 1948);
  • Collected Impressions (London: Longmans, Green; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1950) [incl. ‘The Big House’ (first pub. in The Bell), pp.195-100’, ‘Notes on Writing a Novel’, &c.];
  • Bowen’s Court (London: Longmans, Green; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1942); Do. [2nd edn.], with afterword (London: Longmans, Green; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1964); Do. (NY: Ecco Press 1978), Do., with intro. by Hermione Lee (London: Virago 1984), and Do. [resized facs. of 1942] (Cork: Collins Press 1998), 476pp., 16 pls. [see extract];
  • The Shelbourne: A Centre in Dublin Life for More Than a Century (London: George G. Harrap 1951; rep. 1955), 200pp. [incl. Index]; Do., pub. in America as The Shelbourne Hotel (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1951);
  • A Time in Rome (NY: Alfred A. Knopf; London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1960);
  • Afterthoughts: Pieces on Writing (London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1962);
  • Pictures and Conversations, foreword S. C. Brown (London: Allen Lane 1975) [based on notes for an autobiography];
  • Hermione Lee, sel. & intro., The Mulberry Tree: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen (Dublin: Poolbeg 1978; London: Virago 1986), and Do. [rep. edn.] (London: Vintage 1999), viii, 325pp. [incls. little-known portrait of a beloved family servant; unpubl. letters to Virginia Woolf and William Plomer, &c.; ‘The Moores’ (New Statesman, 18 (1939), pp.758-60].
  • The Good Tiger (NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1965), for children;
  • Anthony Trollope: A New Judgement (OUP 1946);
  • English Novelists (London: Collins 1942);
  • Why Do I Write, and Exchange of Views Between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, and V. S. Pritchett (Percival Marshall 1948);
  • A Time in Rome (London: Jonathan Cape 1959); Do. (London: Longmans; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1960), 169pp.; Do. [another edn.?] ([London:] The Quality Book Club 1960); Do. (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1989, 1990), 169pp., and Do. (London: Vintage, 2003), 256pp.
  • Introduction to J. S. Le Fanu, Uncle Silas (London: Cresset Press 1947);
  • Introduction to Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (Lehman[n] 1957) [4pp.];
  • Introduction to A. P. Ryan, ed., Critics Who Have Influenced Taste (1965).

See also her Introduction to The House by the Churchyard, in Gary William Crawford, Jim Rochill & Brian J. Showers, ed., Reflections in an Glass Darkly: Essays on J. Sheridan Le Fanu (NY: Hippocampus Pres 2011) [in Sect. V: Studies of Individual Works]. [as infra]

  • ‘Eire’, in New Statesman and Nation (21 April. 1941);
  • ‘The Short Story in England’, in Britain Today, 109 (May 1945), pp.11-16 [rep. in Phyllis Lassner, Elizabeth Bowen: A Study of the Short Fiction, NY: Twayne 1991, pp.128-43; see text, infra];
  • ‘She Gave Him’ [sect.] to Consequences, a complete story in the manner of the old parlour game in nine chapters (Waltham St Lawrence: Golden Cockerel Press 1932), [3] 66pp., ill, with John van Druten; G. B. Stern; A. E. Coppard; Seán O’Faoláin; Norah Hoult; Hamish Maclaren; Ronald Fraser; and Malachi Whitaker.
  • Victoria Glendinning with Judith Robertson, ed. Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen & Charles Richie - Letters and Diaries 1941-1973 (NY: Simon & Schuster 2009), 475pp. [many letters discarded by Ritchie]
  • ‘The Experience of Writing’: Notes to a lecture deliveres at Wellesley College, 20 March 1950) [Berg Collection, NY Public Library]
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  • Death of the Heart, dir Sean Ó Mordha [1998] (RTE 12 Feb. 1999), and BBC2 Bookmark (7 Feb. 1999);
  • The Last September dir. Deborah Warner, screenplay by John Banville (filmed 1999).
Recent compilations
  • Jack Lane & Brendan Clifford, eds., Notes from Eire: Espionage Reports to Winston Churchill 1940-42, with a review of Irish Neutrality (Millstreet, Co Cork: Aubane Historical Society; Belfast: Athol Press 1999), 266pp. [the Notes occupy 30pp.], and Do. [rep. as] Elizabeth Bowen: “Notes on Eire” (Belfast: Aubane Hist. Soc. 2008; 3rd [enl.] edn. 2009), 296pp.;
  • Elizabeth Bowen: More of Her Espionage Reports from Ireland to Winston Churchill (Belfast: Aubane Hist. Soc. 2009), 38pp. [being the newly discovered pages added to the 2009 edn. of “Notes on Eire”];
  • Allan Hepburn, ed., People, Places, Things (Edinburgh UP 2008), 480pp.;
  • Allan Hepburn, ed. Listening In: Broadcasts, Speeches, and Interviews by Elizabeth Bowen (Edinburgh UP 2010), 392pp.;
  • Eibhear Walshe, Elizabeth Bowen’s Selected Writings (Cork UP 2011), 271pp.

Bibliographical details
The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen, intro. by Angus Wilson (NY: Knopf 1981), 784pp. FIRST STORIES: “Breakfast”; “Daffodils”; “The Return”; “The Confidante”; “Requiescat”; “All Saints”; “The New House”; “Lunch”; “The Lover”; “Mrs Windermere”; “The Shadowy Third”; “The Evil That Men Do -”; “Sunday Evening”; “Coming Home.” The Twenties: “Ann Lee’s”; “The Parrot”; “The Visitor”; “The Contessina”; “Human Habitation”; “The Secession”; “Making Arrangements”; “The Storm”; “Charity”; “The Back Drawing-Room”; “Recent Photograph”; “Joining Charles”; “The Jungle”; “Shores: An International Episode”; “The Dancing-Mistress”; “Aunt Tatty”; “Dead Mabelle”; “The Working Party”; “Foothold”; “The Cassowary”; “Telling”; “Mrs. Moysey”. THE THIRTIES: “The Tommy Crans”; “The Good Girl”; “The Cat Jumps”; “The Last Night in the Old Home”; “The Disinherited”; “Maria”; “Her Table Spread”; “The Little Girl’s Room”; “Firelight in the Flat”; “The Man of the Family …”; “The Needlecase”; “The Apple Tree”; “Reduced”; “Tears, Idle Tears”; “A Walk in the Woods”; “A Love Story”; “Look at All Those Roses”; “Attractive Modern Homes”; “The Easter Egg Party”; “Love”; “No. 16”; “A Queer Heart”; “The Girl with the Stoop”. THE WAR YEARS: “Unwelcome Idea”; “Oh, Madam …”; “Summer Night”; “In the Square”; “Sunday Afternoon”; “The Inherited Clock”; “The Cheery Soul”; “Songs My Father Sang Me”; “The Demon Lover”; “Careless Talk”; “The Happy Autumn Fields”; “Ivy Gripped the Steps”; “Pink May”; “Green Holly”; “Mysterious Kôr”; “The Dolt’s Tale.” POSTWAR STORIES: “I Hear You Say So”; “Gone Away”; “Hand in Glove”; “A Day in the Dark”.

See also see Ian D’Alton, ‘“My name is Alan Charles Cameron ...”: The Farahy Address, 9 September 2007’, in The Irish Review, Nos. 40-41 (Winter 2009), pp.171-76.

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Elizabeth Bowen Review, of the Elizabeth Bowen Society, is edited by Nicola Darwood and Nick Turner; founded in 2017; available online [accessed 06.10.2018].
Full-length studies
  • Jocelyn Brooke, Elizabeth Bowen [Suppl. to British Book News No. 28] (London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1952), 32pp.
  • William Heath, Elizabeth Bowen: An Introduction (Madison: Winsconsin UP 1961).
  • Allen E. Austin, Elizabeth Bowen (NY: Twayne 1971) [err. A. Allen, FDA].
  • Edwin J. Kenney, Elizabeth Bowen [Irish Writers Series] (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1975).
  • Victoria Glendinning, Elizabeth Bowen: Portrait of a Writer (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1977 ; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1978), and Do., as Elizabeth Bowen: A Biography (rep. NY: Knopf 1979; rep. Orion/Phoenix 1993), 261pp.
  • Harold Bloom, ed., Elizabeth Bowen: Modern Critical Views (NY: Chelsea House 1987) [incl. Richard Gill, ‘The Country House in a Time of Trouble’, pp.51-61; also contribs. by Clare Hanson, et al.].
  • Hermione Lee, Elizabeth Bowen: An Estimation (London: Vision; NJ: Barnes & Noble 1981).
  • J’nan M. Sellery, and William O. Harris, Elizabeth Bowen, A Bibliography (Texas 1981).
  • Victoria Glendinning, Elizabeth Bowen: Portrait of a Writer (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1985).
  • Patricia Craig, Elizabeth Bowen (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1986), 143pp.
  • Phyllis Lassner, Elizabeth Bowen (London: Macmillan; Savage, MD: Barnes & Noble 1990), 186pp.; Do. [listed as] Elizabeth Bowen: A Study of the Short Fiction (NY: Twayne 1991), 192pp. [see extract].
  • Heather Bryant Jordan, How Will the Heart Endure?: Elizabeth Bowen and the Landscape of War (Michigan UP 1992), 253pp.
  • Andrew Bennett & Nicholas Royle, Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel: Still Lives (London: Macmillan 1994), 224pp. [see contents].
  • Renée C. Hoogland, Elizabeth Bowen: a Reputation in Writing [Lesbian Literature Ser.] (NYU Press 1994), xix, 369pp.
  • Andrew Bennett & Nicholas Royle, Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel : Still Lives (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1995), 181pp. [see contents]
  • Eibhear Walshe, ed., Elizabeth Bowen Remembered [Annual Farrahy Addresses] (Dublin: Four Courts Press 1999), 96pp. [13 short contribs.; lim. to 375 copies - see Do., 2009 - infra].
  • Lis Christensen, Elizabeth Bowen: The Later Fiction (Museum Tusculanum 2001), qpp.
  • Maud Ellmann, Elizabeth Bowen: The Shadow Across the Page (Edinburgh UP 2004), xiv, 241pp.
  • Neil Corcoran, Elizabeth Bowen: The Enforced Return (Oxford: OUP 2004), 211pp. [incls. sects. on “Ireland”, “Children”, and “War”; see extract];
  • Eibhear Walshe, ed., Elizabeth Bowen, with a foreword by Neil Corcoran [Visions & Revisions Ser.] (Dublin: IAP 2009), xxiii, 216pp. [contribs. incl. Noreen Doody, Derek Hand, Vera Kreilkamp, Hether Laird, Clair Wills, et al.]
  • Susan Osborn, ed., Elizabeth Bowen: New Critical Perspectives (2009), pp.234 [see contents];
Articles & chapters
  • The Bellman [pseud. Seán O’Faolain], ‘Meet Elizabeth Bowen’, in Bell, 4 (Sept. 1942) [q.pp.].
  • Elizabeth Hardwick, ‘Elizabeth Bowen’s Fiction’, in Partisan Review, 16 (1949), pp.114-21.
  • Harriet Blodgett, Patterns of Reality: Elizabeth Bowen’s Novels (The Hague, Mouton 1975).
  • Gary T. Davenport, ‘Elizabeth Bowen and the Big House’, in Southern Humanities Review, 8 (1974), pp.27-34.
  • Margaret Church, ‘Social Consciousness in Elizabeth Bowen, Irish Murdoch, and Mary Lavin’, in College Literature, 7 (1980), 158-63.
  • Martha McGowan, ‘The Enclosed Garden in Elizabeth Bowen’s A World of Love’, in Eire-Ireland, 16, 1 (Spring 1981), pp.50-70.
  • Patricia Craig, ‘The Power of the Unstated’, review of The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen, in The New York Review of Books (14 May 1981) [go online; accessed 18.09.2008].
  • W. J. McCormack, ‘Mask and Mood’, in New Statesman, 103 (3 Feb. 1981), pp.19-20.
  • Seán O’Faolain, ‘A Reading and Remembrance of Elizabeth Bowen’, in London Review of Books ( 4-17 March 1982), pp.15, 17 [see extract].
  • Antoinette Quinn, ‘Elizabeth Bowen’s Irish Stories: 1939-45’, in Heinz Kosok, ed., Studies in Anglo-Irsh Literature (Bonn: Bouvier 1982), pp.314-21.
  • Deirdre Laigle, ‘Images of the Big House in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September’, in Cahiers Irlandaises, 9 (1984), pp.61-79.
  • Bridget O’Toole, ‘Three Writers of the Big House, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keane, and Jennifer Johnston’, in Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley, eds., Across the Roaring Hill: The Protestant Imagination in Modern Ireland (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985), pp.124-38.
  • Margaret Scanlan, ‘Rumors of War: Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September and J. G. Farrell’s Troubles’, in Eire-Ireland, 20, 2 (Summer 1985), pp.70-89.
  • A. C. Partridge, ‘Language and Identity in the Shorter Fiction of Elizabeth Bowen’, Masaru Sekine, ed., Irish Writers and Society at Large (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe; NY: Barnes & Noble 1986), pp.169-79.
  • Hubert Butler, ‘Elizabeth Bowen’, in Escape from The Anthill, foreword by Maurice James Craig (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1985), q.pp. [c.pp.151, 203.]
  • Eve V. Patten, “Irish Murdoch: Morality and the Methods of Fiction” (TCD 1987) [MPhil Diss.]
  • Phyllis Lassner, ‘The Past is a Burning Pattern: Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September’, in Éire-Ireland, 21, 1 (Spring 1986), pp.40-54.
  • R. B. Kreshner, ‘Elizabeth Bowen’s Oneiric House in Paris’, in Texas Studies in Language and Literature, 28 (Winter 1986), pp.407-23.
  • Dominique Gauthier, L’image du réal dans les romans d’Elizabeth Bowen (1986).
  • Toni O’Brien Johnson, ‘Light and Entertainment in Elizabeth Bowen’s Irish Novels’, in Ariel, 18 (April 1987), pp.47-62.
  • John Hildebidle, Five Irish Writers: The Errand of Keeping Alive (Harvard UP 1989), [10], 245pp. [with Liam O’Flaherty, Kate O’Brien, Seán O’Faoláin, Frank O’Connor];
  • John Cronin, ‘Elizabeth Bowen, The Last September’, in The Anglo-Irish Novel, Vol II (Belfast: Appletree Press 1990), pp.114-28.
  • John Coates, ‘Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September: The Loss of the Past and the Modern Consciousness’, in Durham University Journal, LXXXII, 2 (1990), pp.205-17.
  • Renée C[arine] Hoogland, From Marginality to Ex-centricity: Feminist Critical Theories and the case of Elizabeth Bowen (Amsterdam: Benjamins 1991), 230pp. [prev. Van marginaliteit naar ex-centrisme [… &c.], doct. thesis, Amsterdam 1991]
  • Reynolds, Lorna. ‘The Last September – Elizabeth Bowen’s Paradise Lost’, in Ancestral Voices: the Big House in Anglo-Irish Literature, ed. Otto Rauchbauer (Hildesheim: Olms, 1992), pp.149-58.
  • Gearóid Cronin, ‘The Big House Novel and the Irish Landscape in the Work of Elizabeth Bowen, in J. Genet, ed., The Big House in Ireland (Dingle: Brandon; NY: Barnes & Noble 1991), pp.143-62.
  • R. F. Foster, ‘The Irishness of Elizabeth Bowen’, in Paddy and Mr Punch (London: Allen Lane 1993), pp.102-22 [see extract].
  • Alexander Gonzalez, ‘Elizabeth Bowen’s “Her Table Spread”: A Joycean Irish Story’, in Studies in Short Fiction, 30, 3 (Summer 1993), pp.343-48.
  • W. J. McCormack, Dissolute Characters: Irish Literary History Through Balzac, Sheridan Le Fanu, Yeats and Bowen (Manchester UP 1993) [q.pp.].
  • Declan Kiberd, ‘Elizabeth Bowen: The Dandy in Revolt’, in Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (London: Jonathan Cape 1995) [Chap. 20], pp.364-79.
  • Lis Christensen, ‘A Reading of Elizabeth Bowen’s “A Day in the Dark”’, in Irish University Review, 27, 2 (Autumn/Winter 1997), pp.299-309.
  • Tessa Hadley, ‘Landscape and Land Ownership in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September’, in Irish Encounters: Poetry, Politics and Prose, ed. Alan Marshall & Neil Sammells (Bath: Sulis Press 1998) [Chap. 8; qpp.].
  • Benedict Kiely, ‘The Great Gazebo’, in A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999), pp. 31-44; espec. pp.34-36.
  • Ruth Frehner, The Colonizers’ Daughters: Gender In The Anglo-Irish Big House Novel (Tubingen: Franacke 1999), 256pp.
  • See also Peter Somerville Large, The Irish Country House: A Social History (London: Sinclair-Stevenson 1995).
  • Jeanette Shumaker, ‘Bruised Boys and “Fallen” Women: The Need for Rescue in Short Stories by Elizabeth Bowen’, in South Carolina Review, “Ireland in the Arts and Humanities, 1899-1999” [Special Issue], 32, 1 (Fall 1999), q.pp.
  • Carmen Concilio, ‘Things that Do Speak in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September’, in Moments of Moment: Aspects of the Literary Epiphany, ed. Wim Tigges (Amsterdam: Rodopi Press 1999), pp.279-92.
  • Andrew Gibson, ‘Bowen and “The Sphere of the Common”’ [chap.], in Postmodernity, Ethics and the Novel (London: Routledge 1999), pp.99-107.
  • Neil Corcoran, ‘Discovery of a Lack: History and Ellipsis in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September’, in Irish University Review, 31, 2 (2001). pp.315-33.
  • R. F. Foster, ‘Prints on the Scene: Elizabeth Bown and the Landscape of Childhood’, in The Story of Ireland: Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland (London: Allen Lane 2001), pp.148-86. Raphael Ingelbien, ‘Gothic Genealogies: Dracula, Bowen’s Court and Anglo-Irish Psychology’, in ELH [English Literary History] 70, 4 (2004), p.1089ff. [see extract].
  • Eluned Summers-Bremner, ‘Heart(h) and Home: Elizabeth Bowen’s Irishness’ in Études Irlandaises, 29, 2 (2004), pp.135-50.
  • Nicolas, Dominique. ‘The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen, or a Chronicle of a Foreshadowed Death’ in Back to the Present, Forward to the Past: Irish Writing and History Since 1798, Vol. 1, ed. Patricia Lynch, Joachim Fischer & Brian Coates (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006), pp.297-308.
  • Edwina Keown, ‘Elizabeth Bowen: Empire, Gender and Travel in the Twentieth Century” [PhD thesis] (TCD 2006).
  • Brook Miller, ‘The Impersonal Personal: Value, Voice, and Agency in Elizabeth Bowen’s Literary and Social Criticism’, in Modern Fiction Studies, 53, 2 (Summer 2007), pp.351-69.
  • Jed Esty, ‘Virgins of Empire: The Last September and the Antidevelopment Plot’, in Modern Fiction Studies, 53, 2 (Summer 2007), pp.257-75 [available at Muse - online].
  • Jack Lane, ‘Elizabeth Bowen [...]’ in the Irish Examiner (Aubane Hist. Soc. 2008), 31pp. [sequel to Elizabeth Bowen: Notes on Eire];
  • James F. Wurtz, ‘Elizabeth Bown, Modernism, and the Spectre of Anglo-Ireland’, in Estudios Irlandeses, 5 (2010), pp.119-28 [see extract];
  • James Wurtz, ‘Elizabeth Bowen, Modernism, and the Spectre of Anglo-Ireland’, in Estudios Irlandeses, 5 (2010), pp.118-28.
  • Derek Hand, ‘Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September and the art of betrayal’, in A History of the Irish Novel (Cambridge 2011), pp.182-87 [being Interchapter 5].
  • Kathryn Johnson, ‘“Phantasmagoric Hinterlands”: Adolescence and Anglo-Ireland in Elizabeth Bowen’s The House in Paris and The Death of the Heart’, in Irish Women Writers: New Critical Perspectives, ed. Elke d’Hoker, et al. ([Intern.] Peter Lang 2011), q.pp.
  • Tina O’Toole, ‘Unregenerate Spirits: The Counter-Cultural Experiments of George Egerton and Elizabeth Bowen’, in Irish Women Writers: New Critical Perspectives, ed. Elke d’Hoker, et al. ([Intern.] Peter Lang 2011), q.pp.
  • Elke d’Hoker, ‘Houses and Homes in the Short Stories of Elizabeth Bowen and Maeve Brennan’, in Irish Women Writers and the Modern Short Story (London: Palgrave 2016) [Chap. 2], pp.51-82.
  • Heather Ingman, ‘Silence, Language, and Power in Elizabeth Bowen’s Work’, in Silence in Modern Irish Literature, ed. Michael McAteer [DQR Studies in Literature, Vol. 63] (Leiden/Boston: Brill Rodopi 2017), pp.49-61.

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See also ...
  • Seán Ó Faolain, The Vanishing Hero: Studies in Novelists of the Twenties (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode 1956);
  • Walter Allen, The Short Story in English (OUP 1981);
  • John Bayley, The Short Story: Henry James to Elizabeth Bowen (Brighton: Harvester [St. Martin’s Press] 1988);
  • Julia Briggs, Night Visitors: The Rise and Fall of the English Ghost Story (London: Faber & Faber 1977); 1983);
  • Eva Figes, Sex and Subterfuge: Women Writers to 1950 (NY: Persea 1982);
  • Sandra Gilbert & Susan Gubar, No Man’s Land: The Place of the Woman Writer in the Twentieth Century (Yale UP 1988);
  • John Hildebidle, Five Irish Writers: The Errand of Keeping Alive (Harvard UP 1989);
  • Rosalind Miles, The Female Form: Women Writes and the Conquest of the Novel (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1987);
  • Margot Gayle Backus, The Gothic Family Romance: Heterosexuality, Child Sacrifice, and the Anglo-Irish Colonial Order (Durham: Duke UP 1999);
  • Neil Corcoran, After Yeats and Joyce: Modern Irish Literature (OUP 1997);
  • Heather Ingman, Women’s Fiction between the Wars: Mothers, Daughters and Writing (Edinburgh UP 1998);
  • Vera Kreilkamp, Anglo-Irish Novel and the Big House (Syracuse UP; Eurospan 1999).

Bibliographical details

Phyllis Lassner, Elizabeth Bowen: A Study of the Short Fiction (NY: Twayne 1991), 192pp. CONTENTS. Preface [x]; Acknowledgments [xvi]; 1: THE SHORT FICTION - Introduction [3]; The Ghostly Origins of Female Character [10]; Comedies of Sex and Manners [25]; Children’s “Disconcerting Questions” [41]; Comedies of Sex and Terror [54]; Elegies of Loss and Dispossession [75]; Three Masterworks [97]; Notes to Part 1 [111]. 2: THE WRITER - Introduction [119]; From “The Experience of Writing” [122]; From the Preface to The Faber Book of Modern Short Stones [123]; From a Review of Gorki Stories [127]; From the Preface to Ann Lee’s and Other Stories [128]; Preface to The Demon Lover [131]; From the Preface to The Second Ghost Book [137]; “The Short Story in England” [138]; From “The Forgotten Art of Living” [144]; From “Sources of Influence” [145]; From Bowen’s Court [148]. 3: THE CRITICS - Introduction [157]; William Trevor [168]; Eudora Welty [173]; Chronology [181]; Selected Bibliography [183]; Index [189].

Andrew Bennett & Nicholas Royle, Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel: Still Lives (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1995), 181pp. CHAPS.: Foreword; Acknowledgements; List of Abbreviations; Introduction; Abeyances: The Hotel and The Last September; Shivered: To the North and Friends and Relations; Fanatic Immobility: The House in Paris; Dream Wood: The Death of the Heart; Sheer Kink: The Heat of the Day; Obelisk: A World of Love; Trance: The Little Girls; Convulsions: Eva Trout; Index.

Susan Osborn [Rutgers U.], ed., Elizabeth Bowen: New Critical Perspectives (Cork UP 2009), 256pp. CONTENTS. 1. Sinéad Mooney, ‘Unstable Compounds: Bowen’s Beckettian Affinities’; 2. Osborn, ‘How to Measure this Unaccountable Darkness Between the Trees: The Strange Relation of Style and Meaning in The Last September’; 3. Eluned Summers-Bremner, ‘Dead Letters and Living Things: Historical Ethics in The House in Paris and The Death of the Heart’; 4. June Sturrock, ‘Mumbo-jumbo: The Haunted World of The Little Girls’; 5. Shannon Wells-Lassagne, ‘She-ward Bound: Elizabeth Bowen as a Sensationalist Writer’; 6. Shafquat Towheed, ‘Territory, Space, Modernity: Elizabeth Bowen’s The Demon Lover and Other Stories and Wartime London’; 7. Brook Miller, with Luke Elward, Tessa Hempel & Philip Kollar, ‘Narrative, Meaning and Agency in The Heat of the Day’. Bibliography, pp.159-66.

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See infra.

See infra.


Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction: A Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances and Folklore [Pt. 2] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), lists The Last September (1929), 312pp. [Black and Tan period from big house standpoint, Sir Richard and Lady Naylor of Danielstown House, Co. Tipperary [err.], and dg. [recte niece] Lois [Farquar] who thinks herself in love with young British garrison officer later killed by the IRA; psychological interest (‘unfortunately people of little interest or importance’, acc. Clarke)]; A World of Love (Jonathan Cape 1955), 244pp. [middle class family on farm in Co. Limerick; parents, and dgs. Jane, 20, and Lilia, 12]; and lists The Heat of the Day, Eva Trout, A Summer’s Night, and Bowen’s Court.

[There is an ample Wikipedia page - online; accessed 21.09.2017.]

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3 selects “The Happy Autumn Fields”, from The Demon Lover and Other Stories [939-48]; The Last September [1167]. Bowen is quoted as showing that in Anglo-Irish gothic fiction, the Victorian period remains central (ed. W. J. McCormack) [833]; identified with an Irish gothic tradition as distinctly Protestant (do.) [837]; social origins in the countryside (do.) [838]; qualitatively different phase of literary history [from Bram Stoker et al…, do.], [846]; finely delineated studies in farouche desperation […] in The Last September made rare use of her own Irish origins in a novel that employed the final stages of British occupation as the backdrop to a young girl’s encounter with new realities (do.) [853-54]; The Last September [bears] violent witness to big houses of Ireland, their ‘glory and their doom’ (Augustine Martin, ed.) [1022]; the tradition of the big house hardly produced a work equal to The Last September (ibid.) [1026]. BIOG., 949 [as above]. Vol. 3 selects Seven Winters, Memories of a Dublin Childhood (1943) [453-55].

Anne Owen Weekes, ed., Unveiling Treasures (Dublin: Attic 1993) cites passage from Last September, with plot summary. [Biog. as supra; corrig. father d.1928 from 1938, other source]; Naylor family at Danielstown, and niece Lois Farquar; also Laurence, the Naylor nephew at Oxford, and Gerald Lesworth, the British Officer. [‘I’m not English … Thank God!’]

Elaine Showalter, A Literature of their Own (1984), bio-note: 1899-1973; novelist, b. Dublin, only child of a barrister; ed. Downe House School, Kent, and in Ireland and Europe; m. Alan Cameron in 1923; first book Encounters (1923); best known for The House in Paris (1935), and The Death of the Heart (1938).

Anthologies, Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994), selects “The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Ever Met”, from The Mulberry Tree (Poolbeg 1978). Hermione Lee, The Secret Self: A Century Of Short Stories By Women (Phoenix 1995) incls. Bowen’s story, “Her Table Spread”. Other anthologies with stories by Bowen incl. Derek Hudson, ed., Classic English Short Stories 1930-1955 (OUP 1971), and Evelyn Conlon & Hans-Christian Oeser, eds., Cutting the Night in Two: Short Stories by Irish Women Writers (Dublin: New Island 2001).

Booksellers' Catalogues
Hyland Books
(1997) lists Lady Cynthia Asquith, ed., The Funny Bone, New Humorous Stories (London: Jarrold 1928), 287pp.; Selected Stories [Hour Glass Library] (Dublin 1946); ed.: The Faber Book of Modern Stories [1st ed.] (1937) [incl. Bowen, Joyce, O’Connor, O’Faolain, O’Flaherty among the 26 authors]; Jocelyn Brooke: Elizabeth Bowen Supplement to British Book News, No. 28. 1952.

Peter Ellis (Cat. 19; 2003) lists Angela Thirkill, An Angela Thirkill Omnibus [Ankle Deep; High Rising; Wild Strawberries] (London: Hamish Hamilton 1966), with 3pp. Introduction by Elizabeth Bowen.

Libraries: BELFAST PUBLIC LIBRARY holds Shelbourne, Centre of Dublin Life (1951). HARRY RANSOM HUMANITIES RESEARCH CENTER (Texas Univ., Austin), holds MSS of the majority of her novels together with extensives correspondence [online].

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The Last September (1929), Set in Co. Cork during the Irish Troubles of 1919-20, the novel deals with the emotional awakening of Lois Farquar, a young, unformed woman living at Danielstown, the home of her aunt and uncle, Sir Richard and Lady Myra Naylor. Hugo Montmorency and his ailing wife Francie are sem-permanent guests at Danielstown also. Hugo is a charming but ineffectual: he has sold his own country house (inherited from his wife’s family), planning to move to Canada at the time but forever lacking the determination to do so. He is the initial object of Lois’s attachment, which afterwards shifts to Gerald, a young officer stationed nearby. Gerald presses an unwanted engagement on her but is killed in an ambush soon after. Meanwhile Marda, a sophisticated young woman, comes to visit Danielstown. Hugo and Lois are drawn to her in different ways, as too is Laurence, a young relation of Lady Naylor studying at Oxford who maintains an air of studied indifference to Lois (and life in Ireland generally). After scenes involving Anglo-Irish and Catholic bourgeois neighbours of different shades of social acceptability and Empire loyalty (including an intoxicating dance in the local British barracks where Lois unwillingly commits herself to Gerald), Lady Naylor brutally shreds Gerald’s hopes and the Montmorencys prepare to depart. A series of encounters with an IRA-man - son of tenants of the Naylors - lends urgency to the narrative while the eventual ‘execution’ of Danielstown and other ‘big houses’ in the surrounding area at the close brings an era of Irish history to a blazing conclusion.

The House in Paris (1935): Leopold, a ten-year old young illegitimate child, is brought to the Fisher’s home in Paris in expectation of meeting his mother Karen Michaelis who rejected him at birth. Leopold is the product of her affair with Max Ebhart when both of them were engaged to to others - respectively Ray Forrestier and Karen’s friend Naomi Fisher. Max has been driven to suicide by the malicious interference of Naomi’s mother. At the house Leopold meets a girl called Henrietta, situated similarly to himself, and is finally taken away by his stepfather Ray Forrestier in the course of events that reveal the child to be neurotically obsessed with his absent mother.

The Heat of the Day (1949): Stella Rodney is having an affair with Robert Kelway, an Englishman who is spying for the Nazis in wartime Britain. She is approached by Harrison, a British agent who is on to him, and offered his freedom if she has an affair with him (“I quite see. I’m to form a disagreeably assocaiation in order that a man many be left gree to go on selling his country.”) Though set mostly in London, the novel contains constrasting scenes in the imperilled “big house” own by her soldier-son in Ireland and the country house owned by Kelway. Stella finally confronts Robert in her London home and he confesses to spying for the Fascists before falling to his death in uncertain circumstances from a rooftop. The novel shows a mastery of atmosphere and is duly celebrated for its evocation of the war-time atmosphere there, as well as a masterly mixture of styles, but lacks for cogency at the level of plot. How and why Robert spies for Germany is never made clear, for instance (but perhaps because it is the more understandable Anglo-Irish form of ideological defections).

A World of Love (1955), a story of awakening girlhood passion, set in an Irish ‘big house’, and dealing with Jane Danby’s discovery of a packet of letters from the former owner Guy and thought to be addressed to her own mother Lilia, to whom he was engaged but later found to be to an unknown woman; Jane finally falls in love Richard Priam, breaking her obsession with her mother’s supposed lover.

Eva Trout (1969), a story of ruined childhood and life-long paranoia in which Eva leads her boarding-school teacher Iseult Smith, on whom she has a crush, to believe that she is pregnant by the latter’s newly-married husband, later travelling through America with a deaf-mute child whom she has illegal acquired; on her return to England, she steps in between Iseult and Constantine Ormeau, formerly her own father’s lover, and takes up with Henry Darcy, a neighbour’s son. She is finally killed by her deranged ‘child’ Jeremy at Victoria Station with a revolver from Iseult’s luggage.

Review: ‘Elizabeth Bowen, who started out with such authority in the Henry James country to which she refers once or twice here, has now moved into a still more rarefied world. Now certainly she is as curious, cryptic and capricious as Iris Murdoch. So actually is Eva Trout, her oversized and rather outlandish heroine-heiress who disappears unpredictably from time to time, having generated difficulties in between. But then Eva was “misbegotten” to begin with - abandoned as an infant by her mother who rushed off to a lover and death, shunted around in a slapdash fashion by her father who was more interested in the homosexual Constantine who becomes her guardian. In changing scenes Eva is seen long enough to become the enzyme of uncertainty and unrest that she is - disrupting the marriage of a former teacher, attracting the youngest son at a nearby vicarage, hovering here, unsettling there, disappearing to reappear eight years later with the deafmute who was “virtually born” to her but then is “not of her flesh and blood.” The child, Jeremy, shares in her anonymity: “Anyhow, what a slippery fish is identity; and what is it, besides a slippery fish” and how totally baffling is la Trout with her “genius for unreality?” And would you like her more if you could understand her better? Brushing the cobwebs aside, one is left only with the hooded enigma of her presence, a precarious reward were it not for the calligraphy of one of the enduring, elegant writers of our time.’ (Kirkus Reviews; see COPAC online.)

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Charles Ritchie: Ritchie’s diary documents the beginning his love affair with Elizabeth Bowen, which lasted until her death 32 years later. The first letter from Bowen that he kept was written at the time of their first separation when he left London for Ottawa in 1945. In it she told him he took with him ‘my real life, my only life, everything that is meant by my heart. I am in your keeping. And you are in mine.’ In the years that followed they were never under the same roof for more than a week, including the days they spent at Bowen’s Court each year - which she regarded as their joint home - days remembered for their intensity in her letters and his diaries. (See Victoria Glendinning, ‘I am in your keeping’, The Guardian, [Sat.] 7 February 2009, accessed online 28.08.2010).

Benedict Kiely: ‘Now this is exactly what Elizabeth Bown said to me: “Few of his critics have noticed about Henry James that he displayed all the careful qualities of a Protestant from Lower Ulster.’ ( Kiely, Sing to the Bird, London: Methuen 1991, p.141.)

Peter Somerville Large, The Irish Country House, A Social History (London: Sinclair-Stevenson 1995), includes account of Bowen’s ‘furtive disposal’ of Bowen’s Court without advertisement for sale; see review by Desmond Guinness, in The Irish Times (1 July, 1995).

Seán Bán (Candid Sean): The candid additions to Seán Ó Faolain’s Vive Moi (1963; rev. edn. 1993) include remarks on the Queen of Bowen’s Court: ‘the last time I had lunched there [at Jammet’s] had been with Elizabeth Bowen in the role of another Dublin Matty O’Hara [cf. Mata Hari] carrying an Irish tricolour in one hand and in the other a Union Jack.’ (From full page extract, Sunday Independent, 12 Nov. 1993; p.6.) See also Augustine Martin, review of Roy Foster’s Paddy and Mr Punch (1993) [in Irish Times, q.d.]: Bowen invited O’Faolain to lunch at Jammet’s in 1941, two years after the end of their affair, he wondering why, and not knowing that she was a British agent at the time; includes sketch by Virginia Woolf: ‘very honourable horse-faced, upper-class hard constricted mind.’

Lunchtime express: Elizabeth Bowen is identified to as a reader for the publisher to whom Briony sends her manuscript in Ian MacEwan’s shortlisted Booker novel Atonement (Jonathan Cape 2001): ‘Simply put, you need the backbone of the story. It may interest you to know that one of your avid readers was Mrs Elizabeth Bowen. She picked up the bundle of typescript in an idle moment while passing through this office on her way to luncheon, asked to take it home to read, and finished it that afternoon. Initially, she thought the prose “too full, too cloying”, but with “redeeming shades of Dusty Answer” (which I wouldn’t have thought of at all). Then she was “hooked for a while” and finally she gave us some notes, which are, as it were, mulched into the above.’ (p.314.)

Rose Macaulay: ‘Macaulay’s memory of her free childhood in Italy is reflected in the half-wild character of the young girl, Barbary, who - sent to England to be “civilised”, for complicated family reasons - finds her true home among the ruins. Romantic and didactic though this novel is, it has a strong atmosphere (it would make a good film), comparable to - and surely influenced by - Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart.’ (See Hermione Lee, review of Sarah Le Fanu, Rose Macaulay, in The Guardian, 14 June 2003.)

Mistress of the house: Elizabeth Jane Howard (Slipstream: A Memoir, Macmillan 2002), recalls how ‘Elizabeth Bowen, when brought breakfast in bed, took one swift look at the tray and said, “You’ve forgotten the Marmalade spoon.” Most people would think that funny, at any rate in retrospect, but with Jane Howard it seems another example of her domestic burdens. [… &c.].’ (Quoted in Sarah Curtis, review of same, Times Literary Supplement, 13 Nov. 2002, p.25.)

Booked: In 1972 a Booker judges’ panel consisting of George Steiner, Cyril Connolly and Elizabeth Bowen gave the prize to John Berger for G. He gave half of it to the Black Panthers.

Family & home: family name ultimately derived from Ap Owen, occupants of a “court house”, Glamorganshire]; descended from Col. Henry Bowen, a Cromwellian settler who changed sides in the English Civil War and received a grant of land confiscated from Garrett Cushin [gent.], at Farahy; Bowen’s Court, located on the site of a former established in a ‘Court House’ of the family, commenced following Col. Bowen’s gg-son. marriage to Jane Cole, 1716, and completed in 1775; family associated with landlord beneficence in the Famine, g-m. of Elizabeth, Eliza Wade, having provided food in the basement of the house; famine pit at Farahy; the Bowens wintered at Bowens Court and summered at Herbert Placecapt. Bowen-Colthurst, who unlawfully executed Francis Sheehy-Skeffington during 1916 Rising, was a cousin.

Notes of Ireland” is the title of the communications sent by Bowen to the British Wartime Ministry of Information for transmission to the Dominions Office; there is a gap in the archive from 1940 to 1942 arising from unknown causes. A letter to Virginia Woolf (1 July 1940) discussing the origins of this commission and her misgivings about it (‘Ireland can be dementing, if one’s Irish, and may well be so now’) is reprinted in Hermione Lee, ed., The Mulberry Bush: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen, Poolbeg 1986, pp.215-16; see R. F. Foster, ‘The Irishness of Elizabeth Bowen’, in Paddy and Mr Punch (London: Allen Lane 1993), p.331.

Source note: information in the Life section [supra] largely derives from Patricia Craig, Elizabeth Bowen (Penguin 1986).

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