June 7 ~  Only to Leap Last September

"To leap is not only to leap; it is to hit the ground somewhere." ~ Elizabeth Bowen

Elizabeth Bowen

Novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) was born Elizabeth Dorothea Cole on this day in Dublin, Ireland. The only child of a lawyer, she took her pen name from the family estate of Bowen's Court.

The sensitive 13-year-old turned to writing after her mother's death. "I was in and out of homes of my different relatives," she explained about her nomadic lifestyle. "Shuttling between two countries, Ireland and England."

Inspired by the pain of losing her mother, in 1923, she published Encounters, her first of 20 books, a collection of short stories. Imagination became the salve.

Bowen said, "Fate is not an eagle, it creeps like a rat."

The young writer was praised for her complex characterizations and keen attention to the details of the upper-middle class world. Her introspective work celebrated insight and vulnerability.

"We are minor in everything but our passions," said Bowen, who was a close friend of writer Virginia Woolf.

Compared to the best of Henry James and Jane Austen, her coming-of-age novel The Death of the Heart (1938) explored adolescence and innocence.

"Nobody speaks the truth when there is something they must have," she explained.

Bowen served as air raid warden in World War II and her finely-woven love story Heat Of The Day (1949) captured the tense drama of wartime London. She wrote in the novel: "Art is one thing that can go on mattering once it has stopped hurting."

Leap, but consider the consequences.