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Oct 30, 2020

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Random Person of the Day: Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen (7 June 1899 - 22 February 1973) was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer. Bowen was born in Dublin and later brought to Bowen’s Court in County Cork where she spent her summers. When her father became mentally ill in 1907, she and her mother moved to England, eventually settling in Hythe. After her mother died in 1912, Bowen was brought up by her aunts.

She was educated at Downe House. After some time at art school in London she decided that her talent lay in writing. She mixed with the Bloomsbury Group, becoming good friends with Rose Macaulay, who helped her find a publisher for her first book, Encounters (1923). In 1923 she married Alan Cameron, an educational administrator who subsequently worked for the BBC.

Bowen inherited Bowen's Court in 1930, but remained based in England, making frequent visits to Ireland. During World War II she worked for the British Ministry of Information, reporting on Irish opinion, particularly on the issue of Irish neutrality.

Her husband retired in 1952 and they settled in Bowen’s Court, where Alan Cameron died a few months later. For years Bowen struggled to keep the house going, lecturing in the United States to earn money. In 1959 the house was sold and demolished.

Bowen received recognition for her work, being awarded the 1969 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Eva Trout as well as Doctorates in Literature from Trinity College, Dublin (1949) and the University of Oxford (1952). She was also awarded the CBE.

After spending some years without a permanent home, Bowen settled in Hythe and died of cancer in 1973, aged 73. She is buried with her husband in Farahy church yard, close to the gates of Bowen’s Court. A commemoration of her life is held annually in Farahy church.

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