Elizabeth Bowen (1899–1973)
Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen (1899–1973) was born in Dublin, the only child of the barrister Henry Charles Cole Bowen and Florence Isabella Pomeroy. Her father had a mental breakdown when she was six years old, and in 1906 she was taken by her mother to England. Six years later her mother died of cancer, and Elizabeth was brought up by aunts.
In 1923 Elizabeth Bowen married Alan Charles Cameron. In 1925, when he was appointed Secretary to the City of Oxford Education Committee, they moved to Waldencote in the Croft in Old Headington (right).
Elizabeth Bowen had previously only published a collection of short stories, but at Waldencote she wrote The Hotel (1927), The Last September (1929), Friends and Relations (1931), and To the North (1932).
Her marriage to Cameron (which survived until his death 22 years later) was apparently not consummated, and early in 1933 Elizabeth fell in love with Humphry House. She had an affair with him that continued after his marriage in December 1933, and his wife, Madeleine House, came with her baby to stay with Elizabeth Bowen at Waldencote in the spring of 1935.
In 1935 Elizabeth Bowen left Waldencote and moved to London with her husband, who had been appointed Secretary to the Central Council for Schools Broadcasting.
In 1952 (after more books and more affairs), Elizabeth Bowen moved with her husband to Bowen’s Court (the house in Cork that Elizabeth had inherited back in 1930 on the death of her father); but in August that year her husband died there.
In 1960 Elizabeth Bowen returned to Old Headington and for the next five years lived at White Lodge: she is listed in Kelly’s Directory simply as “Mrs A. Cameron”.
Elizabeth Bowen moved to Hythe in 1965. She died of lung cancer in 1973 and was buried with her husband in Cork.
There is a
much fuller entry on Elizabeth Bowen in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
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