Bowen, Denis (1 of 27).  National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2000-09-02, 2000-11-04, 2001-01-20, 2001-05-28, 2001-11-03, 2002-09-07, 2003-04-19

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, London

  • Interviewees

    Bowen, Denis, 1921-2006 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Chapman, Keith (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: [Recording 2 September 2000] Denis Bowen [DB] born 5 April 1921 on farm in South Africa [SA] details. Father a farmer grew tobacco, cotton, kept ostriches, etc. Explanation of Afrikaans name of farm. DB’s finding clay pots by riverside, details. First house DB lived in, details. 80 mile drive to nearest town, Douglas. Father’s Ford T car. Father’s health. DB’s air gun aged 5. Father purser on Union Castle line ship; encouraged by Scot named Carter, met on board to settle in SA and manage one of his farms. Father’s death when DB aged 5. Mother British brought DB and siblings back to Britain to live with her mother. 1926/7 DB’s first visit to Britain, details. Ostrich stealing diamonds from father’s hand. Details diamond prospecting in SA and Kimberley mine. DB’s live-in governess. Birds and animals seen. Father’s birthplace Montgomeryshire. Mother’s family name Jones. Father’s brother butcher, details. Grandmother’s death, details. DB and family to live with aunt in Fairfield in Moravian settlement. Details sect, settlement houses, shops, etc. Memories of mills and Lowry paintings. Details early morning wake-up call for mill girls; and their clogs in street. DB’s canal-fishing, details. Allotments for vegetables, details. Speedway racing in twenties. Details cooking in terraced house kitchen. Details Carter’s death and finance for education of DB and siblings. DB’s father Alan Fawcett Bowen; died aged 40. Average life span of people in twenties. Childhood diseases. Compares with today’s longevity. Unemployment in twenties. Father to SA 1908. DB’s Wheeler Street School prize for art aged 9, details. Description grandmother in coffin; effect on DB aged 13. Details grandmother’s Sunday morning stout-drinking ritual. Her work in needle-factory aged 13.

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