The Furies of Marjorie Bowen

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About the Book

This first book-length critical examination of the life and work of Marjorie Bowen (1885–1952) reveals a major English writer whose prodigious output included stories of history, romance, and the supernatural. As Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Michael Dirda writes in his Foreword, Bowen may be “the finest British woman writer of the uncanny of the last century,” a view that echoes the high regard of cultural historian Edward Wagenknecht, who called her “a literary phenomenon,” one whose best work places her alongside such contemporaries as Edith Wharton and Daphne du Maurier. Publicly acclaimed—known only by a series of pseudonyms (including “Marjorie Bowen”)—but privately inscrutable, she was and is a mysterious and complex character.
Drawing for the first time upon archival resources and the cooperation of the Bowen Estate, this book reveals a woman who saw herself as a rationalist and serious historian, but also as a mystic and “dark enchantress of dread.” Above all, through a lifetime of domestic storms and creative ecstasy, Bowen worked tirelessly as both a professional writer and a consummate artist, always seeking, as she once confessed, “to find beauty in dark places.”

About the Author(s)

John C. Tibbetts is a professor at the University of Kansas. His many books on the arts include film, music and literature. He has been twice a finalist for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award.

Bibliographic Details

John C. Tibbetts
Foreword by Michael Dirda

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 235
Bibliographic Info: 37 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7716-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3816-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Michael Dirda 1
Introduction: “Music at Midnight” 5
One • “The Music on the Hill”: Pagans and Christians 13
Two • “Painting History”: The Historical Romances 53
Three • “We Human Beings Cannot Endure Too Much Reality”: The Ghost Stories 97
Four • “Curious Happenings”: The Short Stories 119
Five • “Angels of the Darker Drink”: The ­True-Crime Stories of Joseph Shearing 157
Six • Marjorie Bowen: A Life Within 183
Appendix I: Biographical Timeline 193
Appendix II: “Too Much Posturing”: Media Adaptations 195
Chapter Notes 207
Bibliography 218
Index 221

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Elevating her from obscurity, Tibbetts’ comprehensive study of Marjorie Bowen’s life and novels results in a definitive guide for any reader with an interest in understanding Bowen and her place amongst contemporary 20th century Gothic horror and weird fiction writers.”—Michele Brittany, author of Horror in Space: Critical Essays on a Film Subgenre
  • The Furies of Marjorie Bowen provides so knowledgeable and enthusiastic an introduction to this astonishing woman of letters that it will almost certainly send readers to bookshops, libraries and internet sites, eagerly searching for her fiction and nonfiction…Tibbetts is now our go-to authority on this splendid writer. Not only does he know the work better than anyone now alive, but he’s also earned the enthusiastic support of the Bowen estate, which generously granted him full access to the writer’s archives…the finest British woman writer of the uncanny of the last century”—Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The Washington Post
  • “In John C. Tibbetts’s fine exploration, The Furies of Marjorie Bowen, the author and scholar once more ably demonstrates not only his keen observational skills regarding his subject’s output, but also genuine sensitivity and nuance with respect to Bowen’s humanity. In what is likely for many to be an introduction to an important, albeit overlooked, writer, Tibbetts takes the time to ground us in her intellectual sphere, the times in which she lived and worked, and even larger considerations of what drove this astonishing and prolific woman…. Tibbetts has crafted a fascinating portrait of Bowen, both as a person and a creator. His insights and clear prose lend an intimacy and immediacy to the book, drawing the reader in to a world (and worlds) well worth exploring. Any serious devotee of good writing and storytelling will appreciate not only the belated diligence and care Tibbetts pours into this volume, but also the fact that he brings to our collective attention a rich body of work—the breadth, depth, and intensity of which will undeniably give pleasure to readers for years to come. An essential and overdue rediscovery.”—Jason V Brock, author of Disorders of Magnitude and The Dark Sea Within