Thursday, February 22, 2018

Born Today In 1917, Writer, Playwright Jane Bowles

Jane Bowles was born Jane Sydney Auer today, February 22, in 1917. She was an American writer and playwright.

Born in New York City, Jane Bowles spent her childhood in Woodmere, New York, on Long Island. She developed tuberculous arthritis of the knee as a teenager, and her mother took her to Switzerland for treatment, where she attended boarding school. At this point in her life, she developed a passion for literature coupled with insecurities. As a teenager she returned to New York, where she gravitated to the intellectual bohemia of Greenwich Village.

Bowles had a rich love life. In 1937, she met composer Paul Bowles and in following year (1938), they were married and went to a honeymoon in Central America. The location of the honeymoon inspired the setting for her novel, Two Serious Ladies

She visited lesbian bars while they traveled together in Paris. The marriage was a sexual marriage for about a year and a half. After the initial year, Jane and Paul were platonic companions. They both were bisexual, and mainly preferred to have sex outside of their marriage. They were unashamed of their bisexuality, and marriage allowed them to express it.

After this, Jane and Paul went to Mexico where Jane later met Helvetia Perkins, who became her lover.

In 1943 her novel Two Serious Ladies was published. The Bowleses lived in New York until 1947, when Paul moved to Tangier, Morocco; Jane followed him in 1948. While in Morocco, Jane had an intense and complicated relationship with a Moroccan woman named Cherifa. She also had a close relationship with torch singer Libby Holman.

Jane Bowles wrote the play In the Summer House, which was performed on Broadway in 1953 to mixed reviews. Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and John Ashbery all highly praised her work.

In the Summer House was her only full-length play. It was first performed in 1951. The Broadway play opened at the Playhouse Theatre December 29, 1953, with music by Paul Bowles, her husband, where it ran for 2 months to mixed reviews and low attendance. Around 1963, the play was revived. The play was revived again in 1993 At the Vivian Beaumont Theater with incidental music by Philip Glass. In 1994, the revival was nominated for several Tony awards.

The overarching plot is the comparison of an overbearing mother and gentle daughter and a gentle mother and an overbearing daughter. The plot is driven by character interaction and not action.

Bowles, who was an alcoholic, suffered a stroke in 1957 at age 40. The stroke affected her sight and capacity to imagine, however, she pushed through her health issues and continued to write. Her health continued to decline, despite various treatments in England and the United States, until she had to be admitted to a clinic in Málaga, Spain, where she died in 1973.

In Paul Bowles' semi-autobiographical novel The Sheltering Sky, the characters Port and Kit Moresby were based on him and his wife. Debra Winger played Kit in the film adaptation of the novel.

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