Elizabeth Bowen Additional Biography


ph_0111207062-Bowen.jpg Elizabeth Bowen Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen (BOH-uhn) was born in Dublin, Ireland, on June 7, 1899. Her parents were Henry Cole Bowen and Florence Isabella Pomeroy (Colley) Bowen. Both of them were Anglo-Irish, giving Elizabeth a Protestant, landowning heritage. Her father, a barrister, inherited Bowen’s Court, which was built in the eighteenth century and in which Elizabeth lived as a young girl. In 1930, upon the death of her father, she inherited the family estate. When Elizabeth was thirteen years old, her mother died. After her father’s health deteriorated, she spent several years living with various relatives. Her mother’s death, her father’s precarious health, and her lack of a permanent, stable home all had a strong impact on the way that Bowen developed, both as a person and as a writer.

Bowen’s education began at Downe House, Kent, England. She also studied at the London County Council School of Art, and she soon began to write short stories. Her first collection, Encounters, was published in 1923. In the same year, she married Alan Charles Cameron, a graduate of Oxford and a World War I veteran. He began a long career in educational administration through his appointment, in 1925, as secretary for education in the city of Oxford.

By 1927, Bowen was an established writer and spent part of each year in one of her three residences: London’s Chelsea section, Bowen’s Court, and a home in Italy. In addition to writing ten novels and several collections of short stories, Bowen lectured and taught in Italy,...

(The entire section is 632 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Elizabeth Bowen was a prolific writer from the time that she published her first fiction. She was considered an important and original author by readers who shared her taste for the understated and the poetic. They admired her patient probing of the psychological aspects of her characters. Speaking through her characters, she revealed her insights through such images as “the lunatic giant” mentioned by St. Quentin in The Death of the Heart. That noisy, crazy, internal figure is the one to which Bowen paid the most attention.

The American scholar and critic Edwin J. Kenney pointed out that all Bowen’s books deal with the isolated and self-destructive capacities of innocent heroines in disordered circumstances. The crisis of identity recurs in all of her work and makes a unified whole of the novels and short stories. A somewhat eccentric and oblique style set her apart from all but a few writers of her time, notably the novelists Virginia Woolf and Henry James. Her affinity with them in style, structure, and subject matter placed her in very distinguished company, among the outstanding writers of the twentieth century.


Elizabeth Bowen’s early years—while not quite as grim as those of Portia, the main character in her most well-regarded novel, The...

(The entire section is 467 words.)


Elizabeth Bowen was an only child, born in Dublin, Ireland, on June 7, 1899 to Henry Cole Bowen and Florence Colley Brown. Her father worked...

(The entire section is 479 words.)


Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen was born in Dublin, Ireland, on June 7, 1899. The daughter of aristocratic, Anglo-Irish parents, Bowen divided...

(The entire section is 385 words.)