Elizabeth Bowen: A Literary Life

Tuesday, June 30, 2020  4:00pm Online Event; 4:00pm (New York)

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This virtual roundtable discussion will feature Patricia Laurence, author of a new biography of Elizabeth Bowen, in conversation with Kelly Sullivan (NYU) and Emily Bloom (Columbia). To attend, please register here.

Elizabeth Bowen: A Literary Life reinvents Bowen as a public intellectual, propagandist, spy, cultural ambassador, journalist, and essayist as well as a writer of fiction. Patricia Laurence counters the popular image of Bowen as a mannered, reserved Anglo-Irish writer and presents her as a bold, independent woman who took risks and made her own rules in life and writing. This biography distinguishes itself from others in the depth of research into the life experiences that fueled Bowen’s writing: her espionage for the British Ministry of Information in neutral Ireland, 1940-1941, and the devoted circle of friends, lovers, intellectuals and writers whom she valued: Isaiah Berlin, William Plomer, Maurice Bowra, Stuart Hampshire, Charles Ritchie, Sean O’Faolain, Virginia Woolf, Rosamond Lehmann, and Eudora Welty, among others.

Patricia Laurence has published widely on transnational modernism, Bloomsbury, and women writers including The Reading of Silence: Virginia Woolf in the English Tradition (1991); Lily Briscoe’s Chinese Eyes: Bloomsbury, Modernism and China (2001); Julian Bell: The Violent Pacifist (2005). Her recent biography, Elizabeth Bowen, A Literary Life (2020) was announced in WSJ, reviewed in The Irish Times, and featured in The Irish Examiner. She is Professor Emerita of English from the City College of New York.

Kelly Sullivan is a clinical associate professor in Irish Studies at Glucksman Ireland House, New York University. Recent publications include “Elizabeth Bowen and 1916: An Architecture of Suspense” in Modernism/modernity Print+, “‘An Absolutely Private Thing’: Letters in Kate O’ Brien’s The Land of Spices” in Irish University Review, as well as essays on Derek Mahon, Tim Robinson, and Irish artist Harry Clarke. She teaches and researches late modernism, environmental humanities, and contemporary Irish poetry.

Emily Bloom is the author of The Wireless Past: Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, 1931-1968 (2016), which was awarded the First Book Prize by the Modernist Studies Association. The book chronicles the emergence of the British Broadcasting Corporation as a significant promotional platform and aesthetic influence for Irish modernism. Her current work examines disability and media in twentieth-century literature.

Thank you to our co-sponsors, The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University and Glucksman Ireland House NYU.

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