By the age of 13, Elizabeth Bowen had lost her father to mental illness and her mother to cancer. By the age of 20, she was writing short stories and novels strongly influenced by Modernism and on her way to becoming a contemporary and friend to Virginia Woolf.
Dealing with profound universal themes including national identity, society and feminism, two of her well-known novels are set against the backdrop of war—The Last September and The Heat of the Day. But it is The Death of the Heart, published when she was 39, that has more than once been named as one of the 100 best modern novels.
"She had a great love of 19th-century British fiction, which she passed on to me, and she was receptive to 20th-century fiction and poetry of almost any stripe; it was from her that I learned to love the fiction of Eudora Welty and John Cheever, the poetry of e.e. cummings (her favorite) and Ogden Nash." — Jonathan Yardley, Book Critic for The Washington Post
More on Bowen's friendship with Carson McCullers