Elizabeth Bowen

Elizabeth Bowen (Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, 7 June 1899 – 22 February 1973) was an Irish writer. Born in Dublin, she moved with her mother to England in 1907, when her father became mentally ill. After her mother’s death, in 1912, Bowen was brought up by her aunts.

After attending art school in London, she decided to be a writer, and mixed with the Bloomsbury Group. Her friend Rose Macaulay helped her seek out a publisher for her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Encounters (1923).

In 1923 she married Alan Cameron, but had various extra-marital relationships, including one with Charles Ritchie, a Canadian diplomat seven years her junior, which lasted over thirty years. She also had an affair with the Irish writer Seán Ó Faoláin and a relationship with the American poet May Sarton.

In 1937, she became a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. During World War II, she worked for the British Ministry of Information. Many writers visited her house, including Virginia Woolf, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Rosamond Lehmann, and Iris Murdoch, among others. Her novel Eva Trout, or Changing Scenes (1968) won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1969 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1970.

In 1972, she developed lung cancer.  Bowen died in 1973.



  • The Hotel (1927)
  • The Last September (1929)
  • Friends and Relations (1931)
  • To the North (1932)
  • The House in Paris (1935)
  • The Death of the Heart (1938)
  • The Heat of the Day (1949)
  • A World of Love (1955)
  • The Little Girls (1964)
  • Eva Trout (1968)

Short story collections

  • Encounters (1923)
  • Ann Lee’s and Other Stories (1926)
  • Joining Charles and Other Stories (1929)
  • The Cat Jumps and Other Stories (1934)
  • Look At All Those Roses (1941)
  • The Demon Lover and Other Stories (1945)
  • Ivy Gripped the Steps and Other Stories (1946, USA)
  • Stories by Elizabeth Bowen (1959)
  • A Day in the Dark and Other Stories (1965)
  • The Good Tiger (1965, children’s book) – illustrated by M. Nebel (1965 edition) and Quentin Blake (1970 edition)
  • Elizabeth Bowen’s Irish Stories (1978)
  • The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen (1980)
  • The Bazaar and Other Stories (2008) – edited by Allan Hepburn

Non-fiction books

  • Bowen’s Court (1942, 1964)
  • Seven Winters: Memories of a Dublin Childhood (1942)
  • English Novelists (1942)
  • Anthony Trollope: A New Judgement (1946)
  • Why Do I Write?: An Exchange of Views between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene and V.S. Pritchett (1948)
  • Collected Impressions (1950)
  • The Shelbourne (1951)
  • A Time in Rome (1960)
  • Afterthought: Pieces About Writing (1962)
  • Pictures and Conversations (1975) – edited by Spencer Curtis Brown
  • The Mulberry Tree: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen (1999) – edited by Hermione Lee
  • “Notes On Éire”: Espionage Reports to Winston Churchill by Elizabeth Bowen, 1940-1942 (2008) – edited by Jack Lane and Brendan Clifford
  • People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen (2008) – edited by Allan Hepburn
  • Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie: Letters and Diaries, 1941-1973 (2009) – edited by Victoria Glendinning and Judith Robertson
  • Listening In: Broadcasts, Speeches, and Interviews by Elizabeth Bowen (2010) – edited by Allan Hepburn
  • Elizabeth Bowen’s Selected Irish Writings (2011) – edited by Éibhear Walshe


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