Born in Dublin and educated in England, Elizabeth Bowen was an only child. In 1918 she moved to London, where Virginia Woolf and Edward Sackville-West were among her friends. Alan Cameron, whom she married in 1923, was a Scot who worked for the BBC, and with him she lived in London, and Oxford.
After she inherited Bowen's Court, the family estate in County Cork, she spent much time there, as well as travelling extensively in France an Italy, and visiting the U.S.A. She chronicled her own childhood in Dublin in Seven Winters, and wrote the history of her family, and their estate with its 18th-century house, in Bowen's Court. After WWII, she sold the estate and settled in Kent, in the south of England. The house of Bowen's Court was pulled down by the purchaser, and the estate is now marked only by fine stands of trees.
Bowen's style, marked by subtlety and wit, has been compared to that of Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, Henry James and Virginia Woolf. Her novel The Heat of the Day, which she considered her best, was a Book Club choice in the U.S., where it became a best-seller, and her story A Summer's Night is considered a masterpiece comparable to Joyce's The Dead.