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Works by
Jane Bowles
(Playwright, Writer)
[February 22, 1917 May 4, 1973]

Profile created January 18, 2008
 

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Fiction
  • Two Serious Ladies (1943)

  • My Sister's Hand in Mine: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles (2005)
    Though she wrote only one novella, one short play, and fewer than a dozen short stories over a roughly twenty-year span from the early 1940s to the mid-1960s, Jane Bowles has long been regarded by critics as one of the premier stylists of her generation. Enlivened at unexpected moments by sexual exploration, mysticism, and flashes of wit alternately dry and hilarious, her prose is spare and honed, her stories filled with subtly sly characterizations of men and, mostly, women, dissatisfied not so much with the downward spiral of their fortunes as with the hollowness of their neat little lives. Whether focused on the separate emergences of Miss Goering and Mrs. Copperfield from their affluent, airless lives in New York and Panama into a less defined but intense sexual and social maelstrom in the novella Two Serious Ladies, or on the doomed efforts of the neighbors Mr. Drake and Mrs. Perry to form a connection out of their very different loneliness in "Plain Pleasures," or on the bittersweet cultural collision of an American wife and a peasant woman in Morocco in "Everything Is Nice," Jane Bowles creates whole worlds out of the unexpressed longings of individuals, adrift in their own lives, whether residing in their childhood homes or in faraway lands that are somehow both stranger and more familiar than what they left behind.

Plays
  • The Summer House (1953?)

See also:
  • A Little Original Sin: The Life and Work of Jane Bowles (1998) by Millicent Dillon

  • February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, and Gypsy Rose Lee, Under One Roof In Wartime America (2005) by Sherill Tippins -- Finalist Lambda Literary Award for Biography
    February House is the uncovered story of an extraordinary experiment in communal living, one involving young but already iconic writers -- and the country's best-known burlesque performer -- in a house at 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn during 1940 and 1941. It was a fevered year-long party fueled by the appetites of youth and by the shared sense of urgency to take action as artists in the months before America entered the war. In spite of the sheer intensity of life at 7 Middagh, the house was for its residents a creative crucible.

    Carson McCullers's two masterpieces,
    The Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, were born, bibulously, in Brooklyn. Gypsy Rose Lee, workman-like by day, party girl by night, wrote her book The G-String Murders in her Middagh Street bedroom. Auden -- who along with Britten was being excoriated at home in England for absenting himself from the war -- presided over the house like a peevish auntie, collecting rent money and dispensing romantic advice. And yet all the while he was composing some of the most important work of his career.

    Sherill Tippins's February House, enlivened by primary sources and an unforgettable story, masterfully recreates daily life at the most fertile and improbable live-in salon of the twentieth century. 

    See also Jane Bowles and Paul Bowles

Note: Wife of  of Paul Bowles

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Jane Bowles
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