Selina Hastings

Love and Friendship

Love’s Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen & Charles Ritchie – Letters & Diaries 1941–1973

By

Simon & Schuster 489pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

It was during the war that Charles Ritchie and Elizabeth Bowen first met. The occasion was a christening at a country church in Oxfordshire, and soon afterwards their consuming love affair began. In Love’s Civil War, impeccably edited by Bowen’s biographer, Victoria Glendinning, its progress is charted in the couple’s letters and journals. At that first encounter in February 1941, Ritchie, thirty-four and a bachelor, was a mere Second Secretary at the Canadian High Commission while Bowen was forty-one, married, and a highly regarded novelist. Three years earlier Ritchie, who adored women and had had many affairs, noted in his diary that what he was looking for was a woman ‘who will amuse me and listen to me and not flood me with love’. Yet Bowen flooded him with love for over thirty years; he was the great love of her life, and she of his, despite his eventual happy marriage and numerous affairs.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • One woman 'travelled round the south of India with a retinue of 750 people, fourteen elephants, two racing camels f… ,
    • Stuck for a gift idea for Father's Day? Subscribe to Literary Review and get a FREE copy of 'An Impeccable Spy' –… ,
    • 'Gone. All gone. The ease, the pleasure, the effortless eloquence' From May 1995, Margaret Forster's withering rev… ,
    • RT : SO excited to tell you about this event! 😆 The amazing digital colourist, will be joining w… ,
    • 'Peters was unashamed and evidently unshamable, an impostor who wholly inhabited his fabrications and who indignant… ,
    • ‘At every waking moment Barbara Hepworth was aware of herself as a woman paving the way in a man’s world’ From the… ,
    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,