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The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen 
introduced by Angus Wilson.
Cape, 782 pp., £8.50, February 1981, 0 224 01838 8
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Elizabeth BowenAn Estimation 
by Hermione Lee.
Vision, 225 pp., £12.95, July 1981, 9780854783441
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... of genius, or neargenius – time will decide – who was heart-cloven and split-minded it is Elizabeth Bowen. Romantic-realist, yearning-sceptic, emotional-intellectual, poetic-pragmatist, objective-subjective, gregarious-detached (though everybody who resides in a typewriter has to be a bit of that), tragi-humorous, consistently declaring ...

Into Council Care

John Bayley, 6 July 1995

Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel 
by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle.
Macmillan, 208 pp., £35, December 1994, 0 333 60760 0
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... later work, to the older authorial convention of a time-free consciousness. As a pre-war writer Elizabeth Bowen made gestures towards the Modern but preferred her own pattern of individualities. She was not much of a theorist, though she liked to advance her ideas on fiction boldly and with a certain panache, in what she would have described as a ...

Written out of Revenge

Rosemary Hill: Bowen in Love, 9 April 2009

Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen & Charles Ritchie Letters and Diaries 1941-73 
edited by Victoria Glendinning, by Judith Robertson.
Simon and Schuster, 489 pp., £14.99, February 2009, 978 1 84737 213 0
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People, Places, Things: Essays by Elizabeth Bowen 
edited by Allan Hepburn.
Edinburgh, 467 pp., £60, November 2008, 978 0 7486 3568 9
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... Civil war is an unpleasant business and the story that unfolds in the letters and diaries of Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie, the Canadian diplomat with whom she was in love for more than thirty years, is not a happy one. This was not so much what the publishers are pleased to call on the dust jacket ‘the love affair of a lifetime’, more like a fight to the death ...

In Memoriam: V.S. Pritchett

John Bayley, 24 April 1997

... yet it must be obtained without any suggestion of the poetic, which is what Pritchett contrived. Elizabeth Bowen sometimes obtained the same sort of effect by different means. In one of her stories a married woman and a younger man, who know in their heart of hearts that their affair will soon break up, have spent Sunday afternoon on a common in ...

Pushkin’s Pupil

Christopher Driver, 1 April 1983

Ararat 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 191 pp., £6.95, February 1983, 0 575 03247 2
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... Not since Arnold Bennett, Elizabeth Bowen and Vicki Baum can a novelist have looked so readily for resonance in the name and function of hotels. After his world-beating Freudian serve with The White Hotel here is D.M. Thomas again, standing on the baseline at the start of his new novel in yet another hotel setting ...

New Ways of Killing Your Father

Colm Tóibín, 18 November 1993

Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 305 pp., £22.50, October 1993, 0 7139 9095 3
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... and Yeats (he is writing the authorised biography). Other figures to appear are Trollope and Elizabeth Bowen and Maud Gonne. It is clear that Foster is more interested in posh Protestants than in the members of the Short Strand Martyrs Memorial Flute Band or their like. It is also clear that he does not favour Irish commemorations, even ones which ...
Nothing to Forgive: A Daughter’s Life of Antonia White 
by Lyndall Hopkinson.
Chatto, 376 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 0 7011 2969 7
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... by one of her two daughters. She is best known for her convent school novel Frost in May, which Elizabeth Bowen admired for being both a ‘minor classic’ and a ‘work of art’. It was published in 1933; by 1954 its author was complaining that it hung ‘round my neck like a withered wreath’. She would have liked her three subsequent novels and ...

Hats One Dreamed about

Tessa Hadley: Rereading Bowen, 20 February 2020

Collected Stories 
by Elizabeth Bowen.
Everyman, 904 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 1 84159 392 0
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... up three wide steps covered in yellow linoleum. There, not knowing how to choose, I gravitated to Elizabeth Bowen – along with others, including Compton Mackenzie and Hugh Walpole, of whose writing I can’t now recall even the faintest flavour. I’d never heard of any of them – I’d not heard of anybody much – but I was reassured by bound sets ...

Plumping

J.I.M. Stewart, 19 March 1981

Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars 
by Paul Fussell.
Oxford, 246 pp., £8.95, March 1981, 0 19 502767 1
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... takes the reader Right Off the Map, Eliot invites him to join the ‘Journey of the Magi’, and Elizabeth Bowen allows him to live in The Hotel.’ It is significant that, in what is still the age of the great Cunarders, somebody calls a popular play Outward Bound, and that Yeats, having to find a title for a poem, decides not on ‘Going’ or ...

Suiting yourself

Peter Campbell, 27 July 1989

I Modi. The Sixteen Pleasures: An Erotic Album of Renaissance Italy 
by Lynne Lawner.
Northwestern, 132 pp., $35.95, February 1989, 0 8101 0803 8
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The Dress of the Venetians 1495-1525 
by Stella Mary Newton.
Scolar, 196 pp., £28.50, December 1988, 0 85967 735 4
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Fashion Drawings in ‘Vogue’: René Bouët-Willamez and Fashion Drawings in ‘Vogue’: Carl Erickson 
by William Parker.
Joseph, 128 pp., £14.95, March 1989, 0 86350 198 2
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Women and Fashion 
by Caroline Evans and Minna Thornton.
Quartet, 184 pp., £15, March 1989, 0 7043 2691 4
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... of the fashion feature which, in the Forties and Fifties, brought to mind a scene from a novel by Elizabeth Bowen, or a short story by Somerset Maugham, expanded to include Genet, The Story of O and comic books. Evans and Thornton spend some time analysing the feminist position on femininity, and here the disapproving tones of 15th-century Venetian ...

The Intrusive Apostrophe

Fintan O’Toole, 23 June 1994

Sean O’Faolain: A Life 
by Maurice Harmon.
Constable, 326 pp., £16.95, May 1994, 0 09 470140 7
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Vive Moi! An Autobiography 
by Sean O’Faolain.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 377 pp., £20, November 1993, 1 85619 376 4
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... unveiled in the posthumous edition of Vive Moi! – long-running affairs with the writers Elizabeth Bowen and Honor Tracy and the American socialite Alene Erlanger – add to the dishonesty of his public image. Yet O’Faolain’s claim to heroism lies not in any righteous constancy but precisely in his inconsistency. Faced with the insistence of ...

Lincoln, Illinois

William Fiennes, 6 March 1997

All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories 
by William Maxwell.
Harvill, 415 pp., £10.99, January 1997, 1 86046 308 8
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So Long, See You Tomorrow 
by William Maxwell.
Harvill, 135 pp., £8.99, January 1997, 9781860463075
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... has insider status. The cover of the American paperback of The Chateau reproduces the praise of Elizabeth Bowen; the novel’s epigraph is taken from Elizabeth Bowen; it is dedicated to an ‘E.B.’ This new edition of All the Days and Nights quotes the praise of Eudora Welty, to whom one of the stories ...

I Will Tell You Everything

Rosemary Hill: Iris Murdoch, 22 April 2010

Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War – Letters and Diaries 1939-45 
edited by Peter Conradi.
Short Books, 303 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 1 906021 22 1
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With Love and Rage: A Friendship with Iris Murdoch 
by David Morgan.
Kingston, 143 pp., £13.99, March 2010, 978 1 899999 42 2
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... that seems at first surprising for she was not, in any usual sense, a good letter writer. Unlike Elizabeth Bowen or Penelope Fitzgerald, with both of whom she might be compared as a novelist, there is no sense of her trying out obviously literary ideas. There is scant detail in description, little incident and the few character sketches are ...

Living with a little halibut

John Bayley, 8 October 1992

Fraud 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 224 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 224 03315 8
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... the point, for the novel’s life is over – would we go on being interested in a married Emma or Elizabeth Bennet? – but Anita Brookner performs the feat in a characteristically unnerving if elegant way. Her heroine Anna is still there on the page, in the last few pages, when she loses her point and joins all the rest of us in our all too real ...

Out of Ottawa

John Bayley, 21 November 1991

By Heart. Elizabeth Smart: A Life 
by Rosemary Sullivan.
Lime Tree, 415 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 413 45341 3
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... times since it first appeared in the war a number of people have been riveted in this way by Elizabeth Smart’s one-off nouvelle. When the manuscript was accepted in 1941 she had wanted to call it Images of Mica, but George Barker, whom it was all about, flipped the typed pages at random and found a sentence beginning: ‘By Grand Central Station I sat ...

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