Elizabeth Bowen was born in Dublin in 1899, the only child of an Irish lawyer and landowner. She was educated at Downe House School in Kent. She is considered by many to be one of the most distinguished novelists of the twentieth century. Her first book, a collection of short stories, Encounters, appeared in 1923, followed by another, Ann Lee's, in 1926. The Hotel was her first novel, and was followed by The Last September, Joining Charles, another book of short stories, Friends and Relations, To the North, The Cat Jumps, The House of Paris, The Death of the Heart, Look at All Those Roses, The Demon Lover, The Heat of the Day, Collected Impressions, The Shelbourne, A World of Love, A Time in Rome, After-thought, The Little Girls, A Day in the Dark and Eve Trout. She was awarded the CBE in 1948, and received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1949 and from Oxford University in 1956. In the same year she was appointed Lacy Martin Donnelly Fellow at Bryn Mawr College in the United States. In 1965 she was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature. Elizabeth Bowen died in 1973. Hermione Lee grew up in London, was educated at Oxford, began her academic career as a lecturer in Williamsburg, Virginia and at Liverpool, and taught at the University of York from 1977, where she was Professor of English until her recent appointment to the Goldsmiths' Chair of English Literature and Fellow of New College at the University of Oxford. She is well-known as a writer, reviewer and broadcaster. From 1982 to 1986 she presented Channel Four's first books programme, Book Four. Her publications include a critical study of the novels of Virgina Woolf, a book on Philip Roth, a biography of Willa Cather, a popular two-volume anthology of short stories by women writers, The Secret Self, and numerous editions, of Bowen, Woolf, Stevie Smith, Welty, Wharton, Kipling and others. Her biography of Virgina Woolf was published in 1996 and was greeted with great acclaim. It was chosen as a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year, and short-listed for the W H Smith Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the National Book Critics' Circle Award in Biography in the USA. Elizabeth Bowen was first published in 1981 and revised in 1999 for Bowen's centenary.