Jane Bowles

Wife of composer and writer Paul Bowles, Jane Bowles was a playwright and writer.

Photo: Jane Bowles, 1951, photographer Carl Van Vechten, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

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Born Jane Sydney Auer in New York City, Jane suffered from health problems as a teenager and was taken to Switzerland by her mother to receive treatment and attend boarding school. It was here that she developed her love of literature. She returned to Greenwich Village to begin writing a novel as well as explore her bisexuality.

After meeting Paul Bowles in 1937, the two married and traveled to South America and France. While the two remained a couple until Jane’s death, Paul and Jane lead separate sexual lives starting a little over a year after their marriage. Jane’s romantic adventures played a major role in her writing.

Jane’s most important novel, Two Serious Ladies, was published in 1943 and received mixed reviews, though the work is considered a masterpiece today. After struggling with writer’s block when beginning a second novel, Jane focused on writing short stories, including her most famous “Camp Cataract.” A year after Paul moved to Morocco in 1947, Jane joined him, and her romantic misadventures with a peasant woman there were very influential on her life.

Jane’s Broadway play In This Summer House was performed in 1953 and received mixed reviews. Following the run of the play, Jane tried to continue writing, but her obsession with the peasant woman coupled with her alcoholism and social schedule brought on an severe stroke in 1957. She continued to fill notebooks with writing after the stroke, despite damage to her sight and brain. After several hospitalizations, Jane died in 1973.

She was a brilliant and captivating personality, and several writers, including Tennessee Williams, John Ashbery, and Truman Capote considered her to be one of the finest and most underrated writers of the 20th century.

–Christie Finn

Related Information



Sheet Music

Selected Songs (Paul Bowles)

Composer(s): Paul Bowles

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