• Patricia Laurence
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


This chapter describes Bowen’s socialization into “conversation” at the Downe House boarding school, a talent that becomes the sine qua non of her friendships and relationships. She spends a year in art school in London, begins writing, and after marriage to Allen Cameron, an educational administrator, publishes a collection of short stories, Encounters and her first novel, The Hotel. Living in Oxford, she meets an impressive group of left-wing intellectual and writers in the Oxford Circle who contribute to her intellectual and literary education. Bowen’s caliber is revealed in her friendship and conversation with cultural outsiders: Isaiah Berlin, a brilliant intellectual, historian, and raconteur, and William Plomer, a talented writer and Cape editor who figures in discussions of her publications and narrative style.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Laurence
    • 1
  1. 1.City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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