Elizabeth Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

Anglo-Irish Novelist, Short-Story Writer

Author Quotes

But she was his lovely woman: kissed. He shone at her, she helpless. She looked out at the hopeless rain.

Experience isn't interesting until it begins to repeat itself. In fact, till it does that, it hardly is experience.

In the cupboards her dresses hung bosom to bosom coldly, as though they had never been worn. She ran down like a clock whose hands falter and point for too long at one hour and minute: the clock stops dead. She dissolved like breath on a mirror and trailed away like an echo when nobody speaks again.

My dear Francie, life is too short for all this. (Though that was not the matter with life, really: life was too long.)

She danced beautifully with her slim, balanced partners; they moved like moths, almost soundlessly, their feet hiss-hissing faintly on the parquet. Hewson’s hand brushed across the switchboard, lights would spring up dazzlingly against the ceiling and pour down opulently on the amber floor to play and melt among the shadows of feet.

The cat came nimbling back on the tips of its paws and looked at her scornfully. She climbed on a step-ladder to loop back the curtains at the top and let in more light, then she felt dizzy up there and screamed. Her husband, who happened to be passing across the kitchen, had to come in and help her down again. He kissed her – they had been married so recently – but she struggled from his arms in a preoccupied way, like a cat, and hurried away to blow dust off a fern.

There must be something she wanted; and that therefore she was no lady.

Writers do not find subjects; subjects find them.

But surely love wouldn't get so much talked about if there were not something in it?

Fantasy is toxic: the private cruelty and the world war both have their start in the heated brain.

Ireland is a great country to die or be married in.

Never to lie is to have no lock on your door, you are never wholly alone.

She had one of those charming faces which, according to the angle from which you see them, look either melancholy or impertinent. Her eyes were grey; her trick of narrowing them made her seem to reflect, the greater part of the time, in the dusk of her second thoughts. With that mood, that touch of arriere pensee, went an uncertain, speaking set of lips.

The chocolate gates were streaked a bright green from neglect and opened reluctantly, leaving green dust on the hands. In autumn when the new tenants arrived the drive was matted over with lime leaves that sent up a sodden odor, deadening the footsteps.

There was something so very experienced about the tip of her nose that Lois felt went flat. She felt that she herself must be like a cake in which the flour had been forgotten.

But the imagination-game palled upon him earlier than usual, defeated by his returning consciousness of the room. Here was he alone, enisled with tragedy. The thing had crouched beside his bed at night; he had been conscious of it through the thin texture of his dreams. He reached out again now, timidly, irresistibly to touch it, and found that it had slipped away, withdrawn into ambush, leaving with him nothing of itself, scarcely even a memory.

Fate is not an eagle, it creeps like a rat.

It is not helpful to help a friend by putting coins in his pockets when he has got holes in his pockets.

No, it is not only our fate but our business to lose innocence, and once we have lost that, it is futile to attempt a picnic in Eden.

She had this one limitation, his darling Lois; she couldn’t look on her own eyes, had no idea what she was, resented almost his attention being so constantly fixed on something she wasn’t aware of.

The day was featureless, a stock pattern day of late summer, blandly insensitive to their imprints. The yellow sun – slanting in under the blinds on full bosomed silver, hands balancing Worcester, dogs poking up wistfully from under the cloth – seemed old, used, filtering from the surplus of some happy fulfillment; while, unapproachably elsewhere, something went by without them.

They met the white stare of a cottage, stared and turned.

A fragrant, faint impropriety, orris-dust of a century, still hangs over parts of this neighbourhood; glass passages lead in from high green gates, garden walls are mysterious, laburnums falling between the windows and walls have their own secrets. Acacias whisper at night round airy, ornate little houses in which pretty women lived singly but were not always alone. In the unreal late moonlight you might hear a ghostly hansom click up the empty road, or see on a pale wall the shadow of an opera cloak… Nowadays things are much tamer: Lady Waters could put up no reasoned objection to St. John’s Wood.

But to be quite oneself one must first waste a little time.

For in February, before those leaves had visibly budded, the death – execution, rather – of the three houses, Danielstown, Castle Trent, Mount Isabel, occurred in the same night. A fearful scarlet ate up the hard spring darkness; indeed, it seemed that an extra day, unreckoned, had come to abortive birth that these things might happen. It seemed, looking from east to west at the sky tall with scarlet, that the country itself was burning…

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Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen
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Anglo-Irish Novelist, Short-Story Writer