Call for Papers
11th May 2024 ~ University of Bedfordshire (Bedford Campus)
“Locating Elizabeth Bowen”
We invite proposals for conference papers that examine the theme, “Locating Elizabeth Bowen.” Bowen had passionate attachments to places, especially her family home, Bowen’s Court, but also to Dublin, London, Paris, and Folkestone, although the many upheavals in her life meant it became one often dominated by exile. Her characters are often temporarily located: Portia in The Death of the Heart staying uneasily with her brother and his wife; Leopold and Henrietta in The House in Paris caught, as it were, on the move between places; Lois and the Naylors poised on the moment of their expulsion from Danielstown in The Last September; Emmeline’s facilitation of “dangerous” travel in To the North; Eva Trout’s time in America. Bowen’s non-fiction writing also often focuses on specific locations, for example Bowen’s Court, the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, or Rome. There are many examples of spatial locations, but both temporal and emotional forms of location and dislocation also run throughout Bowen’s work.
Proposed papers might explore, but need not be limited to, Bowen’s relationship with:
- specific geographical locations (Dublin; Paris; London; Ireland; England; America; Rome)
- the physical and built environment (Bowen’s Court; the Big House; the Shelbourne and other hotels/ pensions; houses; villas; shops; rooms)
- travel (modernist travel; children on the move; leave taking)
- the spectral
- domestic spaces
Please send proposals of 250-400 words for 20-minute conference papers, together with a short biography, to the conference organisers, Ann Rea, Nicola Darwood and Nick Turner, at email@example.com by 31st December 2023. Decisions will be sent by 31st January 2024.
Elizabeth Bowen Symposium
Birkbeck, University of London, 29th February 2020
On Saturday 29th February 2020, the Elizabeth Bowen Society hosted a symposium at Birkbeck, University of London. The morning discussions began at 10am after a brief overview of the event programme by society founders Nicola Darwood and Nick Turner.
After the morning session had concluded, we started our two-hour walk led by Eoin O’Callaghan, with our final destination being 2 Clarence Terrace, Elizabeth Bowen’s London home from 1935 to 1952. Among the stops were 10 Gower St, the final home of legendary Bloomsbury hostess Lady Ottoline Morrell; 29 Fitzroy Square, one-time home of Virginia Woolf and also London home of George Bernard Shaw; and Regent’s Park, where we visited several locations which inspired and are featured in some of Bowen’s most famous writings. The Rose Garden, for example, was the backdrop of romantic walks for Bowen and Charles Ritchie during the early stages of their relationship. We also read a scene from the short story “Look at All Those Roses,” which eloquently described the array of colours and powerful scents from a garden full of roses. We briefly glanced at the Open Air Theatre, which served as the setting for the opening of The Heat of the Day, and passed the bandstand which also famously featured in the novel. As we approached 2 Clarence Terrace, we crossed one of the bridges over the lake which may have provided the locale for the short story “Tears, Idle Tears.”
Once we arrived at 2 Clarence Terrace, we convened around the blue plaque and took a look at the cover of Victoria Glendinning’s biography, which features a photo of Bowen seated inside. In the background of that photo, you could see where we were standing. We read through the beginning of the chapter which covered Bowen’s purchase of the house and we were all much amused by the idea (as relayed in a letter to Virginia Woolf) that she considered the house to be small.
We would once again like to thank everyone who contributed to making the day a success: the organisers from the committee, the speakers, and of course everyone who attended. Thanks to you all.
We are very grateful to Dr Olena Lytovka, the London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, and the Research Institute for Art, Media and Performance at the University of Bedfordshire; without their support, the symposium would not have been possible.