The American composer and author Paul Frederick Bowles was born in New York City on December 30, 1910. Bowles was published at age seventeen, abandoned college, and in 1929 began his life of travels with a trip to Paris, where he hoped to establish himself as a poet. Back in New York in 1930, he studied composition with Aaron Copland, whom he also accompanied to Yaddo, Paris, Berlin, and Tangier. With the support of Copland and Virgil Thomson, Bowles found work in New York writing incidental music and scores for ballet and theater. His successful career as a composer took off during the Depression with work for the Federal Theater Project (including music for Orson Welles's Horse Eats Hat) and the Federal Music Project. Bowles became one of the preeminent composers of American theater music, producing works for William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, and others. In the 1990s, a resurgence of interest in Bowles's music spawned a number of major concerts and performances in the United States and Europe. In addition, a new generation of musicians has released several well received recordings of Bowles's compositions.
In 1938, Paul Bowles married the aspiring writer Jane Auer, who quickly achieved critical acclaim for her first novel, Two Serious Ladies (1943). Inspired by Jane Bowles's success and her dedication to writing, Bowles began his own career as an author, eventually surpassing his already successful reputation as a composer. Beginning in the 1940s, he produced numerous works of fiction, essays, travel writing, poems, autobiographical pieces, and other works. Among Bowles's best known fictional works are the novels The Sheltering Sky (1949), Let It Come Down (1952), The Spider's House (1955), and an early short story collection, The Delicate Prey and Other Stories (1950). A 1989 reprint of The Sheltering Sky and Bernardo Bertolucci's 1990 film version of the novel, starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich, revived international interest in Bowles, the writer.
Bowles is equally known as a prolific translator. He bestowed the title "No Exit" upon Jean-Paul Sartre's Huis Clos and his 1946 translation of that play remains the standard version for English language productions. During the 1940s, Bowles translated the poems and stories of a wide variety of European and Latin American authors. His translations have broadened readership of Guatemalan author Rodrigo Rey Rosa. Bowles translated several works related to North African culture and geography, and generously introduced and prefaced photographic collections, travel writing, and stories by other authors who share those interests.
Bowles was responsible for bringing several Moroccan storytellers to the attention of readers across Europe and America—most notably the stories of Mohammed Mrabet. Upon meeting Mrabet, Bowles became impressed with his unique power and skill as an oral storyteller in the North African tradition. Mrabet could not read or write, so Bowles dedicated himself to recording, transcribing, and translating Mrabet’s stories for readers. Mrabet’s stories have since been widely published, reprinted, and translated.
Paul and Jane Bowles spent much of their married life traveling throughout the world and in 1947 made Tangier, Morocco, their permanent home. During this time, Paul Bowles was the so-called “dean of American expatriate writers,” and many major figures in the world of letters and the arts frequently visited the Bowleses in Tangier. Jane Bowles died in 1973, and Paul Bowles continued to reside in Tangier until his death on November 18, 1999.
Miller, Jeffrey. Paul Bowles: A Descriptive Bibliography. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Black Sparrow Press, 1986.
Sawyer-Lauçanno, Christopher. An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989.
Davis, Stephen. “Mercury at 80.” The Boston Globe Magazine, March 4, 1990.
Utah-based artist and art teacher Patrick Eddington was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on January 7, 1953. He earned his BFA and Masters in Education from the University of Utah. Eddington created numerous etchings, prints, and paintings, some of which are now held in the Henry Miller Estate Collection and the Miriam Patchen Collection. Eddington was the co-owner and operator of the publishing company Green Cat Press, which focused on publishing literary broadsides as well as art prints He carried on extensive correspondence throughout his life with a staggering number of writers and visual artists. Eddington’s charming and persuasive letters convinced many to engage him in lengthy correspondences. Eddington was also a generous gift-giver, and was eager to forge connections among the writers and artists that he knew and admired. He died on March 26, 2016.
Utah’s Art Magazine website, “A Passion for Arts and Letters. And Cats. Remembering Pat Eddington.” April 5, 2016. (accessed August 10, 2017) http://artistsofutah.org/15Bytes/index.php/patrickeddington/
Information derived from the collection.
Thirty-one letters, five black-and-white photographs, and four photocopies sent by American expatriate writer Paul Bowles to American artist Patrick Eddington between 1978 and 1985.
Bowles and Eddington’s correspondence began in the winter of 1978, and was immediately marked by a warm and friendly tone, sustained by reciprocal gift giving. The first letter in their correspondence details Bowles’ response to Eddington, a fan who reached out directly about how he could find some of the author’s out-of-print works. During their correspondence, Eddington and Bowles discussed the publication of Bowles’ short stories by Black Sparrow Press. Eddington sent Bowles several books that were unavailable or difficult to acquire in Tangier, including Peter Beard’s Longing for Darkness, Bruno Schulz’s Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass and an English language edition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Eddington also sent Bowles bookmarks, a book on rock drawings in Utah, and a sample of San Blas needlework. Eddington and Bowles discussed the possible publication (by Eddington) of a signed literary broadside, which would include a previously unpublished poem written by Bowles. It appears that this project never came to fruition.
In the second letter, Eddington began facilitating correspondence between Henry Miller and Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet. In a letter from July 19, 1979, Bowles noted that Eddington’s introduction had “set off a whole correspondence” between Miller and Mrabet. Eddington and Bowles also discussed trading and purchasing Mrabet’s artworks, with details regarding a potential exhibition of Mrabet’s art which Eddington would help to curate. Although the exhibition never took place, Bowles continued to update Eddington on Mrabet’s artwork, stories, and life in Tangier. Bowles sent Eddington at least two original drawings by Mrabet and four photocopies of his work. He also sent five black-and-white photographs of himself, Mrabet, and Moroccan street scenes.
Bowles occasionally included brief accounts of his life in Tangier and frequently discussed his frustration with Moroccan shipping customs, censorship, and suppression of his creative work. In a letter from March 3, 1979, Bowles warned Eddington not to send any parcels because he was embroiled with customs: “You must understand that I am considered to have spent too much time in this country, and as a result am deprived of permission to live here.” When Eddington sent several of Bowles’ books to him to be signed, Bowles noted that they would have to pass through Morocco’s Ministry of Information and would probably not be released for several months. In a letter from October 19, 1984, Bowles observed that the Moroccans had “always taken a very dim view” of his writing. On several occasions, Bowles described life in Tangier, including the observance of Ramadan, outbreaks of disease, and the inconveniences of the tourist season. He made brief reference to his expeditions recording traditional Moroccan music and offered to send Eddington a cassette of music performed by the Jilala, a Moroccan brotherhood of Sufi origins.
This collection consists of twenty-eight typed letters signed by Paul Bowles, three autograph letters signed by Bowles, five black-and-white photographs of Bowles and Mohammed Mrabet, and four photocopies of Mrabet’s drawings. The letters include Bowles’ return address printed or typed with the date in the top right corner. Each letter is signed in ink by Bowles and some typed letters have corrections and other added content in Bowles’ hand. All of the letters except one are accompanied by their original addressed and postmarked envelope. There is also a single empty envelope dated 1981.