The Marvelous Life of Paul Bowles

Paul Bowles was a man of endless creativity and magnificent talent. His work is still marveled at, his skill admired and his story of travel, adventure, love and loss, retold to many. Morocco became home to Paul Bowles, and Tangier was interwoven into the fibers of his body. Though not born in Morocco, it was a place that was adored by Bowles and where he chose to spend the majority of his life.

The famous Paul Bowles was born in Queens, New York, on 30 December 1910. His first exposure to literature was experienced during his early childhood, as young Paul’s mother would to him from works of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Her reading inspired him to write, scribble notes and draw, leading to the comic strip named “Bluey”. By the age of eight, Bowles expanded his interests by learning to play the family piano, singing and studying the theory of music, enabling him to write music as well. ‘Firebird’, by Stravinsky, was being performed at Carnegie Hall during his senior school years, and Bowles was able to attend the performance that inspired new aspirations in him. Bowles did attend university but never graduated with a degree.

Paul Bowles made another significant change in is life in 1938 when he married Jane Auer. She was a successful playwright and author, and shared the same artistic interest as Bowles. It was after moving to Tangier that he began to flourish and enjoy creative freedom and find inspiration. Some of his most remembered musical works include “Yankee Clipper” (1937), “Cabin” (1946), “Concerto for Two Pianos” (1946), “Sonata for Two Pianos” (1947), “Blue Mountain Ballads” (1979), “Black Star at the Point of Darkness” (1992), and the “Baptism of Solidute” (1995). Bowles found the time to write five novels, between writing music, poetry, short stories and translating novels written by Moroccan authors. His famed novels were “The Sheltering Sky” (1949), “Let it Come Down” (1952), “The Spider’s House” (1955), “Up Above the World” (1966) and “Too Far From Home” (1991). In 1990, Bernardo Bertolucci, produced a film adaptation of “The Sheltering Sky” and in 1995, Paul Bowels made a brief appearance in New York to attend a festival celebrating and honoring the music he had written.

By 1999, Paul Bowles had lived in Tangier for fifty-two years. On 18 November 1999, aged eighty-eight, Bowles passed away in a Tangier hospital. New York paid tribute to this marvelous talent on 29 and 30 October 2000 by reading passages from his book at the 92nd Street YMHA. He was laid to rest next to his grandparents and parents in the Lakemont Cemetery, New York. Even though Paul Bowles was born in the United States, and returned there after he had died, his inspiration for his best work came from Morocco. His legacy will forever be engraved in the history of Tangier.