Elizabeth Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

Elizabeth
Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen
1899
1973

Anglo-Irish Novelist, Short-Story Writer

Author Quotes

You must show him your monkey: I am sure he will like that.

A romantic man often feels more uplifted with two women than with one: his love seems to hit the ideal mark somewhere between two different faces.

But when she looked for Gerald there seemed too much of him. He was a wood in which she counted from tree to tree – all hers – and knew the boundary wall right round. But how to measure this unaccountable darkness between the trees, this living silence? So she turned back to Mr. Montmorency, adding a paragraph.

He feels spikes everywhere and rushes to impale himself.

Julian suggested that they should take the whole day out and lunch in the country. But Cecilia said no: Buckinghamshire was too small, not many times the length of his car; they would soon overshoot the school and run out of the county; they must not overshoot the school.

Nothing can happen nowhere. The locale of the happening always colours the happening, and often, to a degree, shapes it.

She walked about with the rather fated expression you see in photographs of girls who have subsequently been murdered, but nothing had so far happened to her.

The happy passive nature, locked up with itself like a mirror in an airy room, reflects what goes on but demands not to be approached.

They were fawn kid, very clean inside (so probably new), low at the insteps, with slim red heels and a pattern in scarlet leather across the strap and over the toe-cap. They were tiny (size three or three-and-a-half) and looked capable solely of an ineffectual, somehow alluring totter.

A smell of sandalwood boxes, a kind of glaze on the air from all the chintzes numbed his earthy vitality, he became all ribs and uniform.

Cecilia, indignant, still webbed-up in dreams, rolled round to stare at Emmeline in the yellow dusk of drawn curtains.

He suggested that they should go to a film at the Polytechnic, a film with no nonsense in it, about lions.

Karen, her elbows folded on the deck-rail, wanted to share with someone the pleasure in being alone: this is the paradox of any happy solitude. She had never landed at Cork, so this hill and that hill beyond were as unexpected as pictures at which you say Oh look! Nobody was beside her to share the moment, which would have been imperfect with anyone else there.

Nothing could be as dear as the circle of reading-light round her solitary pillow.

She wanted a massage after her journey, a fitting at her corsetière’s, a new silver saucepan to boil milk in her bedroom, a chat with her specialist and one of those mackintosh coats she had just seen advertised for her dog. She decided to visit her hat shop, which concealed itself upstairs in Mayfair with a discretion so sinister one might expect to rap three times on a panel or be regarded narrowly through a grille.

The importance to the writer of first writing must be out of all proportion of the actual value of what is written.

This first phase of autumn was lovely; decay first made itself felt as an extreme sweetness: with just such a touch of delicious morbidity a lover might contemplate the idea of death… His hand with the twitching pen went rushing from line to line at a fever-high pace. He did not once pause. The pen rushed the hand along under some terrific compulsion, as though something, not thought, vital, were being drained out o him through the point of the pen. Words sprang to their places with deadly complicity, knowing each other too well . . . Once or twice when a clinker fell in the stove, or the outside staircase unaccountably creaked as though a foot were upon it, he looked up, the tyrannic pen staggered, he looked round the room with its immutable fixtures as though he were a ghost –

After dark – where once there was silence, a tree’s shadow drawn slowly across the grass by the moon, or no moon, an exhalation of darkness – rows of windows come out like lanterns in pink and orange; boxed in bright light hundreds of lives repeat their pattern; wireless picks up a tune from street to street.

Clumps of trees stretched up their branches all fretted over with green; here and there a field was ridiculous with lambs, and above them larks surcharged with song went wobbling up into the blue.

Her look drank in the blush…

Language is a mixture of statement and evocation.

Now into the hall Mrs. Tommy Cran came swimming from elsewhere, dividing with curved little strokes the festive air – hyacinths and gunpowder. Her sleeves, in a thousand ruffles, fled from her elbows. She gained Uncle Archer’s lapels and, bobbing, floated from this attachment. Uncle Archer, verifying the mistletoe, loudly kissed her face of a delicate pink sugar… The room where they all sat seemed to be made of glass, it collected the whole daylight; the candles were still waiting. Over the garden, day still hung like a pink flag; over the trees like frozen feathers, the enchanted icy lake, the lawn. The table was in the window. As Herbert was brought in a clock struck four; the laughing heads all turned in a silence brief as a breath’s intake. The great many gentlemen and the rejoicing ladies leaned apart; he and Nancy looked at each other gravely. […] Now Nancy, standing up very straight to cut the cake, was like a doll stitched upright into its box, apt, if you should cut the string at its back, to pitch right forward and break its delicate fingers.

She was twenty-one, pretty but brittle and wax-like from steam-heated air. All day long she was just an appearance, a rhythm: in studio or ballroom she expanded into delicate shapes like a Japanese ‘mystery’ flower dropped into water.

The innocent are so few that two of them seldom meet - when they do meet, their victims lie strewn all round.

This is very nice, said Mr. Barlow, looking at the Contessina. She had on a dress of heliotrope organdie, with a fichu folded across the bosom with that best discretion for the display of pretty curves. Her skin was very dark against the heliotrope, as fresh as a young petal, as brown as old, old ivory.

Author Picture
First Name
Elizabeth
Last Name
Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen
Birth Date
1899
Death Date
1973
Bio

Anglo-Irish Novelist, Short-Story Writer