"Demon Lover" which I think is her most popular short story and one of her novels The Last September. I really enjoyed both of these works. I was very happy to discover that Victoria Glendinning had written a biography of Bowen. I have already read and posted on her biography of Leonard Woolf and her biography of Vita Sackville-West, Vita, the role model for the central character in Virgina Woolf's Orlando.
As we see from reading the biography, Bowen was very much pampered growing up and there is a sense in which she maintained a childlike quality in someways throughout her life. This is not to be seen in a negative way, but in a way Wordsworth or maybe even Bob Dylan would approve. She was a friend of Virginia Woolf and numerous other well known literary figures. She was acquainted with Katherine Mansfield and was good friends with Virginia Woolf. Bowen is not the towering genius that Woolf is or the ground breaking artist that Mansfield was but in the end she just might be a writer from whom we can learn more and her stories all seem a lot of fun. She had her ups and downs in life. She had a strange marriage to man she very much loved. She was a great spender of money and loved to host big parties and have guests come stay a long time at the castle, Bowen Court. I think the scene in the book I loved the most was the one describing the visit of Eudora Welty to Bowen Court. Welty worked on one of her short stories while she was there. I know we all would have loved to been allowed to sit in tea time!
This is a rich book. Bowen did a lot and wrote a lot of very good books. Long term Glendinning says she may be most remembered for her short stories. She traveled all over Europe and the USA giving talks and workshops. At times she needed money and she wrote well paid magazine articles.
I got the feeling Glendinning really loves Bowen. She definitely deepened my understanding and appreciation for Bowen and her works. I liked this book so much I delayed reading the last few pages for three days.
Elizabeth Bowen was a class act pure and simple.
I like to imagine groups of writers conversing with each other in a real way, not just in the Great Conversation. I imagined Bowen having tea with Colette, Jean Rhys, Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield and saying "ladies don't give the air to the men in your life that your are desperate for their company." When Virginia Woolf tells everyone they need a room of their own to write in, Bowen responds, "oh if you like you can come write in a room in my castle like Eudora did."