Gordon Bowker (writer)

Gordon Bowker (1934 – 14 January 2019)[1] was an English journalist and academic who wrote biographies[2] of Malcolm Lowry, Lawrence Durrell, George Orwell and James Joyce.

Gordon Bowker
Gordon Bowker, 1996, courtesy of Rhoda Bowker
Gordon Bowker, 1996, courtesy of Rhoda Bowker
BornGordon Philip Bowker
Died14 January 2019
  • Lecturer
  • journalist
  • biographer
SpouseRamdei Rhoda Bowker

Life and works edit

Bowker grew up in a Birmingham devastated by bombing during the Second World War, where he attended grammar school at King Edward VI Camp Hill. At the age of 16, he struck out on his own by travelling to Australia for two years sheep farming, followed by three years in the RAF[3] serving in Cyprus and Egypt. Bowker had always wanted to write, which drew him in to teaching back in Birmingham, qualifying from Saltley College in 1957.

Later, he went on to read English, Sociology and Philosophy at Nottingham and London Universities, where he completed his Ph.D.[4] Bowker was a lecturer at Goldsmiths' College from 1966 to 1991[5] when he began writing dramas and documentaries for radio and television[6] as well as stories, articles and reviews for The Independent,[7] The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times,[8] Slightly Foxed, The London Magazine, Plays and Players, The Listener, The Times Educational Supplement and The Illustrated London News.[9]

After leaving Goldsmiths' College in 1991, Bowker focused his attention on writing literary biography, starting with Pursued by Furies: a Life of Malcolm Lowry, which he originally published in 1993.[10] His first biography became a New York Times Best Seller and "Notable Book of the Year" in 1995.[11] The following year, Bowker published Through the Dark Labyrinth: a Biography of Lawrence Durrell.[12]

Over the next five years, Bowker turned his attention to George Orwell, publishing a biography of Orwell in 2003[13] to commemorate a century since that writer's birth. Over the next few years, Bowker expanded his Orwell interests, promoting the re-publication of a book that revealed insights in to Orwell’s childhood (Eric & Us), and actively participating in the establishment of The Orwell Society, writing articles for The Orwell Foundation[14] as well as Orwell Direct.[15] In 2011, Bowker published what was to be his last book, James Joyce: a New Biography.[16]

In 2022, the Society of Authors created a new prize called the Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize, awarded for a novel "focusing on the experience of travel away from home", endowed by Bowker's widow, named for Malcolm Lowry's novel Under the Volcano.[17]

References edit

  1. ^ Bowker, Gordon Philip. "Probate". Gov.UK. UK Government Probate. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  2. ^ MacMillan Publishers. "Gordon Bowker". MacMillan Publishers. MacMillan. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  3. ^ Penguin Books. "Gordon Bowker". Penguin Random House UK. Penguin. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  4. ^ Bowker, Gordon. "Accounts of Authorship : an analysis of the construction of literary subjects". Senate House Library. University of London. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  5. ^ Bowker, Gordon. "Gordon Bowker". Encyclopedia.com. Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  6. ^ Faber. "Authors". Faber Literary Blog. Faber. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  7. ^ Bowker, Gordon. "Olivia Manning: a life, by Neville & June Braybrooke". Independent. Independent. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  8. ^ Macmillan. "Authors". Macmillan Publishers. US Macmillan. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  9. ^ Higham, David. "Authors". David Higham Literary Agents. David Higham. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  10. ^ Bowker, Gordon (1993). Pursued by Furies: a Life of Malcolm Lowry. London: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-12748-0.
  11. ^ The New York Times (10 December 1995). "Best Sellers". The New York Times. No. 10 December 1995 - Section 7, page 42. The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  12. ^ Bowker, Gordon (1996). Through the Dark Labyrinth: a Biography of Lawrence Durrell. London: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-349-11551-1.
  13. ^ Bowker, Gordon (2003). Orwell. London: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-349-11551-1.
  14. ^ Bowker, Gordon. "The Biography Orwell Never Wrote". The Orwell Foundation. The Orwell Foundation. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  15. ^ The Orwell Society. "History". The Orwell Society. The Orwell Society. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  16. ^ Bowker, Gordon (2011). James Joyce: A New Biography. London: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-17872-7.
  17. ^ Anon. "The Gordon Bowker Volcano Prize". The Society of Authors. The Society of Authors. Retrieved 23 May 2022.