Following a cultured middle-class upbringing in New York City, during which he displayed a talent for music and writing, Bowles pursued his education at the University of Virginia before making various trips to Paris in the 1930s. He studied music with Aaron Copland, and in New York wrote music for various theatrical productions, as well as other compositions. He achieved critical and popular success with the publication in 1949 of his first novel The Sheltering Sky, set in what was known as French North Africa, which he had visited in 1931.
In 1947 Bowles settled in Tangier, Morocco, and his wife, Jane Bowles followed in 1948. Except for winters spent in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) during the early 1950s, Tangier was his home for the remaining 52 years of his life.
Paul Bowles died in 1999 at the age of 88. His ashes are buried in Lakemont Cemetery in upstate New York.
- 1 Life
- 2 Paul Bowles and Tangier
- 3 Music
- 4 Bowles' recording of Moroccan music
- 5 Bowles' translation of Moroccan authors and others
- 6 Achievement and legacy
- 7 Notable works
- 8 Notes
- 9 References/further reading
- 10 External links
1910–1930: Family and education
Paul Bowles was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York City as the only child of Rena (née Winnewisser) and Claude Dietz Bowles, a dentist. His childhood was materially comfortable, but his father was a cold and domineering parent, opposed to any form of play or entertainment, feared by both his son and wife. According to family legend, he had tried to kill his newborn son by leaving him exposed on a window-ledge during a snowstorm; the story may not be true, but Bowles believed it was, and it encapsulates his relationship with his father. Such warmth as there was in his life as a child came from his mother, who read Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe to him – it was to the latter that he later attributed his own desire to write stories such as "The Delicate Prey", "A Distant Episode", and "Pages from Cold Point"
Bowles could read by the time he was three and within the year was writing stories. Soon, he wrote surrealistic poetry and music. In 1922, at age eleven, he bought his first book of poetry, Arthur Waley's A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, and at age seventeen one of his poems, "Spire Song", was accepted for publication in the twelfth volume of Transition, a literary journal based in Paris that served as a forum for some of the greatest proponents of modernism — Djuna Barnes, James Joyce, Paul Éluard, Gertrude Stein and others. His interest in music also dated from his childhood, when his father bought a phonograph and classical records (Bowles was interested in jazz but such records were forbidden in the house). His family bought a piano and the young Bowles studied musical theory, singing, and piano. When he was 15 a performance of Stravinsky's The Firebird at Carnegie Hall made a profound impression: "Hearing The Firebird made me determined to continue improvising on the piano when my father was out of the house, and to notate my own music with an increasing degree of knowing that I had happened upon a new and exciting mode of expression."
Bowles entered the University of Virginia in 1928, where his interests included T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Prokofiev, Duke Ellington, Gregorian chants, and the blues. He also heard music by George Antheil and Henry Cowell. In April 1929 he dropped out without informing his parents and sailed with a one-way ticket for Paris and no intention of ever returning – not, he said later, running away, but "running toward something, although I didn't know what at the time." Bowles spent the next months working for the Paris Herald Tribune and developing a friendship with Tristan Tzara. Nevertheless, by July he returned to New York and took a job at Duttons Bookshop in Manhattan, where he began work on an unfinished book of fiction, Without Stopping (not to be confused with his later autobiography of the same title). At the insistence of his parents he returned to the University of Virginia, but left after one semester to go back to Paris with Aaron Copland, with whom he had been studying composition in New York. It was during the autumn of 1930 in Paris that Bowles began work on his own first musical composition, the "Sonata for Oboe and Clarinet", which he finished the following year and which premiered in New York at the Aeolian Hall on Wigmore St, 16 December 1931, the whole concert (which also included work by Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson) was "panned" by New York critics. (Bowles' first-known, completed compositional work was a translation of some Kurt Schwitters vocal pieces to piano music in Berlin).
1931–1946: France and New York
In France, Bowles became a part of Gertrude Stein's literary and artistic circle. On her advice he made his first visit to Tangier with Aaron Copland in the summer of 1931. They took a house on the Mountain above Tangier Bay. Morocco was later to become Bowles' home (and the inspiration for many of his short stories). From there he traveled back to Berlin, where he met Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood (Isherwood being so taken with him that he named his character Sally Bowles after him), before returning to North Africa the next year to travel throughout other parts of Morocco, the Sahara, Algeria and Tunisia.
In 1937 he returned to New York, and over the next decade established a solid reputation as a composer, collaborating with Orson Welles, Tennessee Williams and others on music for stage productions as well as orchestral pieces. In 1938 he married the author and playwright Jane Auer. It was an unconventional marriage: their intimate relationships were with people of their own sex, but they maintained close ties with each other, and despite being frequently anthologised as a gay writer Bowles always regarded such typecasting as both absurd and irrelevant. After a brief sojourn in France they were prominent among the literary figures of New York throughout the 1940s, with Paul working under Virgil Thomson as a music critic at the New York Herald Tribune. His light opera The Wind Remains, based on a poem by García Lorca, was performed in 1943 with choreography by Merce Cunningham and conducted by Leonard Bernstein. His translation of Sartre's play Huis Clos ("No Exit"), directed by John Huston, won a Drama Critic's Award in 1943.
In 1945 he began writing prose again, beginning with a few short stories including A Distant Episode. His wife Jane, he said, was the main influence upon his taking up fiction as an adult, through the publication of her first novel, Two Serious Ladies (1943).
1947–1956: Early years in Tangier
In 1947 Paul Bowles received a contract for a novel from Doubleday and moved permanently to Tangier, where Jane joined him in 1948. Bowles commented
I was a composer for as long as I've been a writer. I came here because I wanted to write a novel. I had a commission to do it. I was sick of writing music for other people — Joseph Losey, Orson Welles, a whole lot of other people, endless.
Bowles traveled alone into the Algerian Sahara to work on the novel. Bowles commented: "I wrote in bed in hotels in the desert." He drew inspiration from personal experience, noting years later that "Whatever one writes is in a sense autobiographical, of course. Not factually so, but poetically so." The Sheltering Sky — the title came from a song, "Down Among the Sheltering Palms", which Bowles had heard every summer as a child — was first published by John Lehmann in England in September 1949 after Doubleday rejected the manuscript. Bowles commented "I sent it out to Doubleday and they refused it. They said "We asked for a novel." They didn't consider it a novel. I had to give back my advance. My agent told me later they called the editor on the carpet for having refused the book — only after they saw that it was selling fast. It only had to do with sales. They didn't bother to read it." A belated first American edition by New Directions appeared the following month. The plot follows three Americans, Port, his wife Kit and their friend, Tunner, as they journey through the Algerian desert, culminating in the death of one (Port) and the descent into madness of another (Kit). The reviewer for Time magazine commented that the ends visited upon the two main characters "seem appropriate but by no means tragic", but that "Bowles scores cleanly with his minor characters: Arab pimps and prostitutes, French officers in garrison towns, [and] a stupidly tiresome pair of tourists—mother & son." Tennessee Williams, in The New York Times, was far more positive, commenting that the book was like a summer thunderstorm, "pulsing with interior flashes of fire". The book quickly rose to the New York Times best-seller list, going through three printings in two months.
The Sheltering Sky was followed in 1950 by a first collection of short stories. Titled A Little Stone (John Lehmann, London, August 1950), which omitted two of Bowles' most famous short stories, "Pages From Cold Point" and "The Delicate Prey", on the advice of Cyril Connolly and Somerset Maugham that if they were included in the collection distribution and/or censorship difficulties might ensue.:22 The American edition by Random House, The Delicate Prey and Other Stories, followed later in November 1950 and contained the two stories that had been excluded from the UK edition. When responding to the claim that almost all of the characters in "The Delicate Prey" were victimized by either physical or psychological violence, Bowles responded: "Yes, I suppose. The violence served a therapeutic purpose. It's unsettling to think that at any moment life can flare up into senseless violence. But it can and does, and people need to be ready for it. What you make for others is first of all what you make for yourself. If I’m persuaded that our life is predicated upon violence, that the entire structure of what we call civilization, the scaffolding that we’ve built up over the millennia, can collapse at any moment, then whatever I write is going to be affected by that assumption. The process of life presupposes violence, in the plant world the same as the animal world. But among the animals only man can conceptualize violence. Only man can enjoy the idea of destruction."
A second novel, Let It Come Down (John Lehmann, London, February 1952), like The Sheltering Sky, was set in North Africa (this time explicitly Tangier) and dealt with the disintegration of an American (Nelson Dyar), who was unprepared for the encounter with an alien culture. The first American edition by Random House followed later in the month.
A third novel, The Spider's House, (Random House, New York, November 1955) was set in Fez (immediately prior to Morocco's independence and sovereignty in 1956, away from the French Protectorate) and charted the relationships among three expatriates and a young Moroccan: John Stenham, Alain Moss, Lee Veyron and Amar. Reviewers noted that it marked a departure from Bowles' earlier fiction in that it introduced a contemporary political theme, the conflict between Moroccan nationalism and French colonialism. The UK edition (Macdonald) followed in January 1957.
While Bowles was now concentrating on his career as a writer, he composed incidental music for nine plays presented by the American School of Tangier. The Bowleses became fixtures of the American and European expatriate scene in Tangier. Visitors included Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal. The Beat writers Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Gregory Corso followed in the mid-1950s and early 1960s. In 1951, Bowles was introduced to the Master Musicians of Jajouka, having first heard the musicians when he and Brion Gysin attended a festival or moussem at Sidi Kacem. Bowles' continued association with the Master Musicians of Jajouka and their hereditary leader Bachir Attar is described in Paul Bowles' book, a diary entitled Days: A Tangier Journal.
1957–1973: Moroccan music and translation
In 1957 Jane Bowles suffered a mild stroke, which marked the beginning of a long and painful decline in her health which was to preoccupy Paul Bowles until Jane's death in 1973. This period also saw the first years of full Moroccan independence and Bowles, with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and sponsorship from the US Library of Congress, spent the months of August to September 1959 traveling throughout Morocco with Christopher Wanklyn and Mohammed Larbi recording traditional Moroccan music.
From 1959–1961, Paul Bowles recorded in Morocco a wide variety of music from the different ethnic groups of that country, including the Jewish communities of Meknes and Essaouira. The majority of these recordings are currently being transferred to the digital medium at George Blood Audio and Video in Philadelphia.
Another major project of these years was translating Moroccan authors and story-tellers including Mohamed Choukri, Ahmed Yacoubi, Larbi Layachi (under the pseudonym Driss ben Hamed Charhadi), and Mohammed Mrabet.
In the autumn of 1968, at the invitation of his friend Oliver Evans, Bowles spent one semester at the English Department of the San Fernando Valley State College, (now California State University, Northridge), teaching "Advanced Narrative Writing and the Modern European Novel."
In 1970 Bowles and Daniel Halpern started the Tangier literary magazine Antaeus which was to feature many new authors, such as Lee Prosser, as well as more established authors such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his own work, such as "Afternoon with Antaeus", some fragments of an unfinished novel by his wife Jane Bowles along with excerpts from "The Summer House", and works by Daniel Halpern and others. Antaeus was published until 1994.
1974–1999: Later years
After the death of Jane Bowles on 4 May 1973 in Málaga, Spain, Bowles continued to live in Tangier, writing and receiving visitors to his modest apartment. In 1985 he published his translated version of one short story "The Circular Ruins" of Jorge Luis Borges which was published in a book of sixteen story translations (all by Bowles) called "She Woke Me Up So I Killed Her". This Borges story had already been translated and published by the three main Borges translators: Anthony Kerrigan, Anthony Bonner and James E. Irby and it is interesting to note the difference of styles amongst these four different translations. Bowles's version is in typical Bowles prose style and is readily distinguishable from the other three, which have a more conservative idiomatic form of translation.
In the summers of 1980 and 1982, Paul Bowles conducted Writing Workshops in Morocco, (under the auspices of the School of Visual Arts in New York) at the American School of Tangier. These were both very successful, so much so that several of his former students including Rodrigo Rey Rosa, the 2004 Winner of the Miguel Ángel Asturias National Prize in Literature and also the literary heir of the estate of Paul Bowles, and Mark Terrill went on to become successful authors.
In 1988, when Bowles was asked what his social life was like, he replied "I don't know what a social life is... My social life is restricted to those who serve me and give me meals, and those who want to interview me", and in the same interview when asked how he would summarize his achievement, replied "I've written some books and some music. That's what I've achieved."
Bowles made a cameo appearance at the beginning and end of Bernardo Bertolucci's film version of The Sheltering Sky in 1990. Bowles' music was mostly forgotten until the 1990s, when a new generation of American musicians and singers became interested in this work again. These charming, witty pieces are a treasure to be savored by art song enthusiasts.
In 1995, Paul Bowles made a rare and final return to New York for a special Paul Bowles Festival celebrating his music at Lincoln Center under the conductorship of Jonathan Sheffer with the Eos Orchestra and later a symposium and interview held at the New School for Social Research.
Bowles was interviewed by Paul Theroux in 1994, documented in the last chapter of Theroux's travel book, The Pillars of Hercules.
In 1998, Bowles' wit and intellect remained as sharp as ever. He continued to welcome whoever turned up at his door into his apartment near the old American consulate in Tangier. However, on the advice of his doctors and friends, he began to limit interviews. One of his final reminiscences about his literary life occurred during an interview with Stephen Morison, Jr., a frequent visitor and friend who was teaching at the American School of Tangier at the time. The interview was conducted on July 8, 1998 and appeared in the July/August 1999 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. His final formal interview took place on June 6, 1999; it was conducted by Irene Herrmann, the executrix of the Paul Bowles Music Estate, focused on his musical career, and was published in September 2003.
Bowles died of heart failure at the Italian Hospital in Tangier on November 18, 1999 at the age of 88. He had been ill for some time with respiratory problems. His ashes were buried in Lakemont, New York, next to the graves of his parents and grandparents.
Paul Bowles and Tangier
Paul Bowles lived for 52 of his 88 years in Tangier. Not surprisingly, he became identified with the city: during his life visitors would seek him out, and on his death obituary-writers without fail linked his life to his residency: he became a symbolic American expatriate, and the city became the symbol of his expatriate status.
At the time of his first visit with Aaron Copland in 1931 Tangier had an anomalous status, a Moroccan city which was not Moroccan, with a population at once Berber, Arab, Spanish, and European, speaking Spanish, French, Berber and Arabic, under the control of a consortium of foreign powers, one of them the United States. Paul Bowles was entranced. On his return in 1947 the city had already changed, but not enough to rob it of its aura of strangeness and wonder. In 1955 there were anti-European riots, and in 1956 the city was returned to full Moroccan control.
Paul Bowles' reputation as a composer was ultimately overshadowed by his writing. He studied with Aaron Copland. He wrote chamber music and incidental music for the stage. The score of his 1955 opera Yerma is especially memorable and gets much radio-play. He collected Moroccan folk music. His compositions are being re-released.
Bowles' recording of Moroccan music
Bowles was a pioneer in the field of North African ethnomusicology with his field recordings from 1959 to 1961 of traditional Moroccan music for the US Library of Congress. The collection includes dance music, secular music, music for Ramadan and other festivals, and music for animistic rituals. The motivation for the recordings was Bowles' realisation that modern culture would inevitably have an impact on traditional music. There was also a political element to his work, with Bowles commenting: "Instrumentalists and singers have come into being in lieu of chroniclers and poets, and even during the most recent chapter in the country's evolution – the war for independence and the setting up of the present regime – each phase of the struggle has been celebrated in song." The total collection of this recorded music is known as "The Paul Bowles Collection" and is archived in the US Library of Congress, Reference No. 72-750123. The Archival Manuscript Material (Collection) contains 97 x 2 track 7" reel-to-reel tapes, containing approximately sixty hours of traditional folk, art and popular music, one two box of manuscripts, 18 photographs and a map along with the 2 LP recordings called 'Music of Morocco' (AFS L63-64).
In the 1960s Bowles began translating stories from the oral tradition of native Moroccan storytellers. His most noteworthy collaborations included Mohammed Mrabet, Driss Ben Hamed Charhadi (Larbi Layachi), Mohamed Choukri, Abdeslam Boulaich, and Ahmed Yacoubi.
He also translated Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Jorge Luis Borges, Jean-Paul Sartre, Isabelle Eberhardt, Guy Frison-Roche, André Pieyre de Mandiargues, Ramon Gomez de la Serna, Giorgio de Chirico, Si Lakhdar, E. Laoust, Ramon Beteta, Gabino Chan, Bertrand Flornoy, Jean Ferry, Denise Moran, Paul Colinet, Paul Magritte, Popul Buj, Francis Ponge, Bluet d'Acheres and Ramon Sender
Achievement and legacy
Paul Bowles was one of the artists whose work has shaped 20th century literature and music. In the Introduction to Bowles's "Collected Stories" (1979) Gore Vidal ranked his short stories "among the best ever written by an American", writing: "the floor to this ramshackle civilization that we have built cannot bear much longer our weight. It was Bowles's genius to suggest the horrors which lie beneath that floor, as fragile, in its way, as the sky that shelters us from a devouring vastness".
His music, in contrast, is "as full of light as the fiction [is] of dark...almost as if the composer were a totally different person from the writer." During the early 1930s he studied composition (intermittently) with Aaron Copland; his music from this period "is reminiscent of Satie and Poulenc." Returning to New York in the mid-30s, he became one of the preeminent composers of American theater music, producing works for William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, and others, "show[ing] exceptional skill and imagination in capturing the mood, emotion, and ambience of each play to which he was assigned." In his own words, incidental music allowed Bowles to present "climaxless music, hypnotic music in one of the exact senses of the word, in that it makes its effect without the spectator being made aware of it." At the same time he continued to write concert music, his style assimilating some of the melodic, rhythmic, and other stylistic elements of African, Mexican, and Central American music.
In 1991 Paul Bowles was awarded the Rea Award for the Short Story, an award that is made annually "to a writer who has made a significant contribution to the short story as an art form". The jury gave the following citation: "Paul Bowles is a storyteller of the utmost purity and integrity. He writes of a world before God became man; a world in which men and women in extremis are seen as components in a larger, more elemental drama. His prose is crystalline and his voice unique. Among living American masters of the short story, Paul Bowles is sui generis." His works were added to the Library of America (aimed at preparing scholarly editions of American literary classics and keeping them permanently in print) in 2002.
In addition to his chamber and stage compositions, Bowles published fourteen short story collections, three volumes of poetry, numerous translations, numerous travel articles, and an autobiography.
Travel, autobiography and letters
- 1957 – Yallah, text by Paul Bowles, photos by Peter W. Haeberlin (travel)
- 1963 – Their Heads are Green and Their Hands Are Blue (travel)
- 1972 – Without stopping (autobiography)
- 1990 – Two Years Beside The Strait (autobiography)
- 1991 – Days: Tangier Journal (autobiography)
- 1993 – 17, Quai Voltaire (autobiography of Paris, 1931,1932)
- 1994 – Photographs – "How Could I Send a Picture into the Desert?" (Paul Bowles & Simon Bischoff)
- 1995 – In Touch – The Letters of Paul Bowles (edited by Jeffrey Miller)
Film appearances and interviews
- Paul Bowles in Morocco (1970), produced and directed by Gary Conklin 57 minutes
- Paul Bowles": South Bank Show London Studios (1988), produced by ITV, directed by Melvyn Bragg, 54 minutes
- In 1990 Bernardo Bertolucci adapted The Sheltering Sky into a film in which Bowles has a cameo role and provides partial narration. 132 minutes
- "Things Gone and Things Still Here" 1991, Directed by award winning BBC Filmmaker Clement Barclay. This film tries to decode the world of Paul Bowles in a one hour documentary. Chicago Film festival winner.
- "Paul Bowles The Complete Outsider" 1993, by Catherine Hiller Marnow and Regina Weinreich 57 minutes.
- "Halfmoon" 1995, four stories by Paul Bowles, Frieder Schlaich and Irenve von Alberti. First Run Features, 91 minutes
- "Halbmond" 1995, German version of "Halfmoon", Frieder Schlaich and Irenve von Alberti. First Run Features, 90 minutes
- "Let It Come Down" 1998, Requisite Productions, Zeitgeist Films, pub. 72 minutes, not rated. – this film is likely the definitive portrait of the author late in life. Directed by Jennifer Baichwal, includes footage of the final meeting between Bowles, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg which took place in 1995 in New York. 72 minutes
- "Night Waltz" 2002, Owsley Brown Film of the music of Paul Bowles, with Phillip Ramey and an Interview with Jonathan Sheffer, conductor of the Eos Orchestra. 77 minutes
- Carr, Virginia Spencer. Paul Bowles: A Life. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 2009, p. 1.
- Virginian Spencer Carr, University of Delaware Special Collections: Paul Bowles: An Introduction
- New York Times obituary for Paul Bowles, 19 November 1999
- Allen Hibbard, "Paul Bowles: A Biographical Essay"
- Seidner, David. "Paul Bowles", ‘’BOMB Magazine’’ Fall, 1982. Retrieved on [March 6, 2013]
- [Paul Bowles Music (page 43) Edited by Claudia Swan]
- [In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles: Bowles letter to Edouard Roditi, Berlin, 9 June 1931]
- "University of Delaware Library:Special Collections Department"
- Book Factory, "Life and Works"
- Holland, Patrick (2002). "Bowles, Paul", glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
- Philip Ramey, "A Talk With Paul Bowles"
- Warnow, Catherine; Weinreich, Regina (1993) , "Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider", in Caponi, Gena Dagel, Conversations with Paul Bowles, pp. 214–5 Unknown parameter
- McInerney, Jay (September 1985), Paul Bowles in Exile, Vanity Fair
- Seidner. , ‘’BOMB Magazine’’
- Bowles, Paul, Without Stopping: An Autobiography, p. 275.
- Bowles, Paul, Without Stopping: An Autobiography, p. 292.
- Caponi, Gena Dagel (1993), "Paul Bowles in Exile", Conversations with Paul Bowles, p. 188 Unknown parameter
- Time, December 1949.
- The New York Times, December 4, 1949.
- Miller, Jeffrey, Paul Bowles: A Descriptive Bibliography.
- "Paul Bowles", The Paris Review Interviews, p. 190.
- "Paul Bowles: The Art of Fiction", The Paris Review 81 (67), Fall 1981.
- "dustwrapper info", The Spider's House (first ed.), NY, USA: Random House, November 1955.
- ["Their Heads are Green and Their Hands are Blue" (Random House, 1963): "The Rif to Music" pages 97 to 141]
- ["Without Stopping" (Putnam, 1972): page 368]
-  Placing the Placeless: A Conversation with Rodrigo Rey Rosa by Jeffrey Gray
-  He is the literary heir of the estate of Paul Bowles and Jane Bowles
-  Pinstripe Fedora: Issue #3
- ["Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider" Interview with Catherine Warnow and Regina Weinreich/1988 Published in "Conversations with Paul Bowles" by Gena Dagel Caponi 1993, page 217]
-  Art Song of Williamsburg
-  Jonathan Sheffer & the Eos Orchestra
-  The last interview with Paul Bowles
- The US Library of Congress Recordings were inaugurated to act as a "repository for ethnographic documentation appealing to folklorists and cultural documentarians working in this country and in foreign lands as well." Folklife Center News, Spring 2003, page 5
- [Page 1 of a 9-page booklet contained within the double LP "Music of Morocco", AFS L63-64)]
- Collections & Research Services: The Archive of Folk Culture
- University of California, Berkeley Library, Biographies
- Gore Vidal, Introduction to The Collected Stories, 1979, reprinted 1997.
- Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno, "An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles", (1999)
- University of Delaware Library: Paul Bowles Collection
- Paul Bowles, Biographical Dictionary of American Composers.
- Rea Award for the Short Story
Biographies and memoirs
- Paul Bowles: 2117 Tanger Socco, Robert Briatte (1989), ISBN 2-259-02007-0 The first biography of Paul Bowles (in French)
- An Invisible Spectator: A Biography of Paul Bowles, Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno (1989)
- You Are Not I: A Portrait of Paul Bowles, Millicent Dillon (1998)
- Paul Bowles: A Life, Virginia Spencer Carr (2004), ISBN 0-684-19657-3
- Isherwood, Bowles, Vedanta, Wicca, and Me, Lee Prosser (2001), ISBN 0-595-20284-5
- Paul Bowles, Magic and Morocco, Allan Hibbard (2004), ISBN 978-0-932274-61-8
- February House, Sherill Tippins (2005), ISBN 0-618-41911-X
- Paul Bowles by his Friends, Gary Pulsifer (1992), ISBN 0-7206-0866-X
- Second Son: an autobiography, David Herbert (1972), ISBN 0-7206-0272-6
- The Sheltering Sky, (movie edition) Bertolucci and Bowles (1990), ISBN 0-356-19579-1
- Here to Learn, Mark Terrill (2002), ISBN 1-891408-29-1
- Yesterday's Perfume,Cherie Nutting with Paul Bowles (2000), ISBN 0-609-60573-9
Literary criticism of Paul Bowles
- Paul Bowles: Romantic Savage, Gena Dagel Caponi (1994), ISBN 0-8093-1923-3
- Paul Bowles: The Inner Geography, Wayne Pounds (1985), ISBN 0-8204-0192-7
- Paul Bowles: The Illumination of North Africa, Lawrence D. Stewart (1974), ISBN 0-8093-0651-4
- Paul Bowles: Twayne's Authors Series, Gena Dagel Caponi (1998), ISBN 0-8057-4560-2
- The Fiction of Paul Bowles: The Soul is the Weariest Part of the Body, Hans Bertens (1979), ISBN 90-6203-992-8
Published interviews with Paul Bowles
- Conversations with Paul Bowles, Gena Dagel Caponi (1993), ISBN 0-87805-650-5
- Desultory Correspondence, Florian Vetsch (1997), ISBN 3-9520497-7-8
Catalog and archive editions on Paul Bowles
- Paul Bowles: A Descriptive Bibliography, Jeffrey Miller (1986), ISBN 0-87685-610-5
- Paul Bowles on Music, edited by Timothy Mangan and Irene Herrmann (2003), ISBN 0-520-23655-6
- The Dream at the End of the World: Paul Bowles and the Literary Renegades in Tangier, Michelle Green (1991) ISBN 0-06-016571-5
- Paul Bowles: Le Reclus de Tanger", Mohamed Choukri (1997)
- Stars in the Firmament: Tangier Characters 1660–1960", David Woolman (1998) ISBN 1-57889-068-3
- The Tangier Diaries", John Hopkins (1998) ISBN 93-227-4501-0
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Writing and music
- Paul Bowles Collection at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin
- Paul Bowles Online Exhibit, University of Delaware
- Paul Bowles audio and music web published on the Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine project archive at Ubuweb
Interviews with Paul Bowles
More interviews on the official Paul Bowles website
- Jeffrey Bailey (Fall 1981). "Paul Bowles, The Art of Fiction No. 67". Paris Review.
- “A Distant Episode: In Tangier with Paul Bowles.” Poets & Writers Magazine. July/August 1999: 36–39.
- Clips of interviews with Bowles from the documentary Paul Bowles in Morocco
- "Paul Bowles, A Conversation with Bruce Duffie" (Bruce Duffie, May 1992)
- Paul Bowles Meets with Ken Smith and Frank J. Oteri (January 1, 1998, published on NewMusicBox December 1999)
- "Stranger on a Strange Shore" (Gaither Stewart, Critique magazine, October 2000).
- BOMB Magazine interview with Paul Bowles by David Seidner (Fall, 1982)
- Paul Bowles’ Tangier and Fez, Mohamed Elkouche (from “Paul Bowles' Tangier and Fez: The Agony of Transition from Colonial to Post-colonial Times,” in Urban Generations: Post-Colonial Cities, Mohamed V University, Rabat, 2005.
Reviews and obituaries
- Review of "The Sheltering Sky", TIME magazine, 5 December, 1945
- Review of "Let It Come Down", "Critique" magazine.
- Review of "The Spider's House", New York Times, 1955
- Review of "Up Above the World", New York Times, 1966
- New York Times obituary, 19 November 1999
- Manchester Guardian obituary, 19 November 1999
- BBC World obituary, 19 November 1999