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Elizabeth Bowen

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  50 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
In this richly detailed biography, Victoria Glendinning brings alive the great Anglo-Irish novelist whose literary achievements were equaled only by her unbounded gift for living.

Taking us from Elizabeth Bowen's ancestral home in Ireland, Bowen’s Court, to Oxford where she met Yeats and Eliot, to her service as an air-raid warden in London during World War II, this penetr
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 5th 2006 by Anchor (first published January 1st 1977)
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I don't usually read a biography of a writer before I've read her fiction, and I wouldn't recommend it. There's less richness as a result and more potential spoilers. But Bowen is someone whose work I hadn't managed to read yet--she's never included in any of the literature anthologies I teach or come across though she wrote a number of short stories--and not one of her novels is to be found in my usually very good local library. It's hard to imagine that at one time her novels were more popular ...more
Apr 24, 2011 Patricia rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
Glendinning gives just enough analysis of the works to highlight important themes and what makes Bowen worth reading, without tyrannizing over the reader's chance to form impressions, and without giving away too much of what will happen (important in the case of the ghost stories, for instance, although she does give away the ending of "Demon Lover.") She make the reader eager to turn to the works. Both Bowen and Glendinning made for happy company. Glendinning writs an enjoyable, fair-spirited l ...more
Feb 21, 2009 Typewriter rated it it was amazing
Excellent biography of the Anglo-Irish great writer.

Glendinning is a judicious commentator, a good storyteller and a thorough researcher.

Bowen was impressively able to live 'life with the lid on' rather well. Perhaps there's something disappointing about that. Does it not draw us to Virginia Woolf to know of her personal fragility, insanity, suicide? As we identify with the sensitive do we not want to be able to empathise in vulnerability, in lack of ease with the way of the world?

Reach out to u
May 03, 2009 Eric rated it liked it
I've been reading her stories, which led me to her life. Reading biographies of writers whose worlds you've visited is like a passport, a Baedeker, to that world. I don't read biographies all at once, rather a bit at a time, rather in the way they experienced their lives.
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British biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist. She is President of English PEN, a winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, was awarded a CBE in 1998 and is Vice-president of the Royal Society of Literature.

Glendinning read modern languages at Oxford and and worked as a teacher and social worker before becoming an editorial assistant for the Times Literary Supplement in 1974.

She has m
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“Elizabeth disliked the tragic, martyred image of Virginia Woolf which grew up after her death. When she read the first volume of William Plomer's autobiography, At Home, in 1958, she told him that ‘only you seem to bring back Virginia's laughter - I get so bored and irked by the tragic fiction which has been manufactured about her since 1941.” 1 likes
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