Elizabeth Bowen's works are noted for their delicate portrayal of the lives and dilemmas of upper middle-class characters. Many of her writings concern spinsters, widows, and lonely girls – sensitive and vulnerable women in search of elusive happiness. She has also been praised for her vivid depiction of life in Britain during World War II. Elizabeth Bowen's capacity to describe colours, light, and atmospheric effects may derive from an early wish to be an artist.
Born in Dublin, Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen was brought up at Bowen's Court, County Cork, Ireland, and educated in Kent. At the age of 19 she began living part of the year in London and part in Italy; to help support herself she started her career as a writer. Her first published work, Encounters, a collection of short stories, appeared in 1923. In that year she married Alan Cameron, an educational administrator. Four years later she published her first novel, The Hotel. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, her novels and short stories met with great critical approval. Among her best-known novels are The House in Paris (1935), The Death of the Heart (1938), The Heat of the Day (1949), A World of Love (1955), and Eva Trout (1969). Seven Winters, an early piece of autobiography, appeared in 1942, while Pictures and Conversations (1975) contains memories of her youth as well as essays of literary criticism. She also wrote radio and television scripts for the BBC.
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