Bowles, Jane, 1917-1973

Alternative names
Birth 1917-02-22
Death 1973-05-04

Biographical notes:

American writer.

From the description of Jane Bowles Collection, 1944-1966. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122602047

American expatriate author.

From the description of Papers of Jane Bowles, 1966-1967. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 32136010

The author Jane Auer Bowles, 1917-1973, published one novel, Two Serious Ladies (1943); one play, In the Summer House (1954); and a short story collection, Plain Pleasures (1966). The Collected Works of Jane Bowles (1966) combined these works in one volume. My Sister's Hand in Mine (1978) is an expanded edition of The Collected Works, containing an additional six short stories previously published only in magazines. A posthumously published collection of the short stories and a selection of letters, Feminine Wiles, appeared in 1976. Additional arrangements of her work, including some previously unpublished notebook material, and letters, were published under the titles of Out in the World: Selected Letters of Jane Bowles (1985) and Everything Is Nice: The Collected Works of Jane Bowles (1989).

The only child of Sidney and Claire Stajer Auer, Jane Stajer Auer was born February 22, 1917, in New York City. The Auer family moved to Woodmere, Long Island, when Jane was ten years old. Upon her father's death in 1930, Jane and her mother returned to New York City for two years before moving to Leysin, Switzerland, where Jane received treatment for tuberculosis of the knee. After returning to New York in 1934, Jane decided to be a writer; her first work, Le Phaéton Hypocrite (manuscript lost), was completed in 1936. Jane married the writer-composer Paul Bowles on February 21, 1938. Following their marriage, they traveled to Latin America and Europe and briefly resided in New York. After 1948, they lived in Tangier, Morocco, but continued to make frequent visits to Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Although both were bisexual and they often lived apart, the Bowles' marriage endured until Jane's death in 1973. Among their wide circle of friends and acquaintances were literary, musical, and theatrical figures, such as Tennessee Williams, Libby Holman, William S. Burroughs, Peggy Guggenheim, and Virgil Thomson. Another important figure in Jane Bowles's life was her Arab housekeeper and lover, Cherifa.

Jane Bowles's active period as a writer only lasted for about ten years; she always experienced difficulty in writing, but by 1950 this difficulty, worsened by alcohol, became complete writer's block. In 1957, at the age of 39, Jane Bowles suffered a severe stroke which left her with acute aphasia and vision impairment. She made several attempts to continue writing but was unable to complete any work, due in part to the effects of her heavy dependence on alcohol and prescription drugs. By 1967, her mental and physical health deteriorated to the point that Paul Bowles placed her in a psychiatric hospital in Málaga, Spain. The following year she was moved to the Clínica de los Angeles in Málaga. In 1969, she returned to Tangier for four months but had to be readmitted to the convent hospital where she died on May 4, 1973.

More information about Jane Bowles may be found in Millicent Dillon's A Little Original Sin: The Life and Works of Jane Bowles (Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1981).

From the guide to the Jane Auer Bowles Collection TXRC99-A16., 1944-1966, (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)


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Ark ID:


  • American
  • Women authors--20th century
  • Americans--Morocco
  • Authors, American--20th century


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  • Morocco (as recorded)