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May 3, 1960

“The story,” Irish novelist and visiting professor Elizabeth Bowen told an audience in the Chapel, “is the master of the writer; the glory of the writer is that he serves the story, and his reward for his work is doing that work well.” The author of eight novels, including The House in Paris (1935), The Death of the Heart (1938), The Heat of the Day, (1949) and A World of Love (1955), numerous short stories and nonfiction works, including Bowen’s Court (1942), Why Do I Write?: An Exchange of Views between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene and V. S. Pritchett (1948) and A Time in Rome (1960), she asserted, said Mary Davis ’60 in The Miscellany News, that “part of the power of the story…is over the author himself. As much as the writer begins with a conscious intention, he is likely to release, by his very comtemplation of an imagined scene, a great mass of imaginative material that he did not expect. This unexpected material, which Miss Bowen called ‘the strange little growth…which is the stuff of the story,’ does not make the writer happy, or satisfy his egotism.”

Visiting professor in the English department for the second semester, Bowen wrote a few months later about the experience. “How much,” she said, “goes on in these buildings!—these classrooms and halls and theatres, galleries, music rooms and laboratories! The campus is not a cloister. I have seen no attempts to shield it from the winds of reality—harsh as they sometimes blow. Late evening lectures on world developments, prevailing problems and current topics are thronged; groups for debates and discussions flourish, with ever-increasing membership. These students like their brothers and sisters elsewhere, are seeking a synthesis….”

Glamour, August, 1960

The Years