Paul Frederic Bowles (//; December 30, 1910 – November 18, 1999) was an American expatriate composer, author, and translator. He became associated with Tangier, Morocco, where he settled in 1947 and lived for 52 years to the end of his life.
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 several trips to Paris in the 1930s. He studied music with Aaron Copland, and in New York wrote music for theatrical productions, as well as other compositions. He achieved critical and popular success with his first novel The Sheltering Sky (1949), 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 Bowles' home for the remainder of his life. He came to symbolize American expatriates in the city.
Paul Bowles died in 1999 at the age of 88. His ashes are buried near family graves 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 that it encapsulated his relationship with his father. Warmth in his childhood was provided by 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. At age seventeen, he had a poem, "Spire Song", accepted for publication in Transition. This literary journal based in Paris served as a forum for leading 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 by his father.) His family bought a piano, and the young Bowles studied musical theory, singing, and piano. When he was 15, he attended a performance of Stravinsky's The Firebird at Carnegie Hall, which 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 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. 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 studies at the University of Virginia, but left after one semester to return 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. It premiered in New York at the Aeolian Hall on Wigmore St, 16 December 1931. The entire concert (which also included work by Copland and Virgil Thomson) was "panned" by New York critics. (Bowles' first-known composition was completed earlier in Berlin: an adaptation as piano music of some vocal pieces by Kurt Schwitters.)
1931–1946: France and New York
In Paris, 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. Bowles later made Morocco his full-time home, and it inspired many of his short stories. From there he returned to Berlin, where he met British writers Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood. (Isherwood was reportedly so taken with him that he named a character Sally Bowles in his novel after him.) The next year, Bowles returned to North Africa, traveling throughout other parts of Morocco, the Sahara, Algeria, and Tunisia.
In 1937 he returned to New York. Over the next decade he 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 Jane Auer, an author and playwright. It was an unconventional marriage: their intimate relationships were with people of their own sex, but they maintained close personal ties with each other. Bowles has frequently been featured in anthologies as a gay writer, but during his life, he always regarded such typecasting as both absurd and irrelevant. After a brief sojourn in France, the couple were prominent among the literary figures of New York throughout the 1940s. Paul Bowles also worked under Virgil Thomson as a music critic at the New York Herald Tribune. His light opera The Wind Remains, based on a poem by Federico 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 Bowles 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, when she published 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; with the advance, he moved permanently to Tangier. Jane joined him there the next year. 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. He later said, "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." He named the novel The Sheltering Sky, from a song, "Down Among the Sheltering Palms", which he had heard every summer as a child. It was first published by John Lehmann in England in September 1949 after Doubleday rejected the manuscript.
"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 Publishing 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 Port and the descent into madness of 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." Playwright Tennessee Williams, in The New York Times, commented 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.
In 1950 Bowles published his first collection of short stories. Titled A Little Stone (John Lehmann, London, August 1950), it omitted two of Bowles' most famous short stories, "Pages From Cold Point" and "The Delicate Prey." British critic Cyril Connolly and writer Somerset Maugham had advised him 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 (November 1950) did include these two stories.
In an interview 30 years later, Bowles responded to an observation that almost all of the characters in "The Delicate Prey" were victimized by either physical or psychological violence. He said:
"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."
He set his second novel, Let It Come Down (John Lehmann, London, February 1952), in North Africa, specifically Tangier. It explored the disintegration of an American (Nelson Dyar), who was unprepared for the encounter with an alien culture. The first American edition by Random House was published later that same month.
Bowles set his third novel, The Spider's House, (Random House, New York, November 1955) in Fez (immediately prior to Morocco's gaining independence and sovereignty in 1956). In it he charted the relationships among three expatriates and a young Moroccan: John Stenham, Alain Moss, Lee Veyron, and Amar. Reviewers noted that the novel 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) was published in January 1957.
While Bowles was concentrating on his career as a writer, he composed incidental music for nine plays presented by the American School of Tangier. The Bowles couple 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 described his continued association with the Master Musicians of Jajouka and their hereditary leader Bachir Attar in his book, Days: A Tangier Journal.
In 1952, Bowles bought the tiny island of Taprobane, off the coast of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). There he wrote much of his novel The Spider's House, returning to Tangier in the warmer months. He returned to Sri Lanka most winters.
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. Her condition preoccupied Paul Bowles until Jane's death in 1973.
During the late 1950s, Morocco achieved independence. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and sponsorship from the US Library of Congress, Bowles spent the months of August to September 1959 traveling throughout Morocco with Christopher Wanklyn and Mohammed Larbi recording traditional Moroccan music. From 1959–1961, Bowles recorded a wide variety of music from the different ethnic groups in Morocco, including the Sephardic Jewish communities of Meknes and Essaouira. The majority of these recordings are being transferred to the digital medium at George Blood Audio and Video in Philadelphia.
During these years, Bowles also worked at 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, invited by friend Oliver Evans, Bowles was a visiting scholar for one semester at the English Department of the San Fernando Valley State College, (now California State University, Northridge. He taught "Advanced Narrative Writing and the Modern European Novel."
In 1970 Bowles and Daniel Halpern started the literary magazine, Antaeus, based in Tangier. It featured many new authors, such as Lee Prosser, as well as more established authors such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Daniel Halpern and others. Bowles' work was also published, including his story "Afternoon with Antaeus", some fragments of an unfinished novel by his wife Jane Bowles, along with excerpts from "The Summer House." 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. He wrote regularly and received many visitors to his modest apartment.
In the summers of 1980 and 1982, Paul Bowles conducted writing workshops in Morocco at the American School of Tangier (under the auspices of the School of Visual Arts in New York). These were considered successful. Among several students who have become successful authors are Rodrigo Rey Rosa, the 2004 Winner of the Miguel Ángel Asturias National Prize in Literature, and Mark Terrill. In addition, Bowles designated Rey Rosa as the literary heir of his and Jane Bowles' estates.
In 1985 he published his translation of a short story, "The Circular Ruins," by Jorge Luis Borges. It was collected in a book of sixteen stories, all translated by Bowles, called She Woke Me Up So I Killed Her. This Borges story had previously been published in translations by the three main Borges translators: Anthony Kerrigan, Anthony Bonner and James E. Irby. Critics have noted the differences amongst these four translations. Bowles' version is in his typical prose style; it is readily distinguishable from the other three, which have a more conservative idiomatic form of translation.
In 1988, when Bowles was asked in an interview 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." When asked in the same interview how he would summarize his achievement, he said, "I've written some books and some music. That's what I've achieved."
Bowles had a cameo appearance at the beginning and end of the film version of The Sheltering Sky (1990), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Bowles' music was overlooked and mostly forgotten for more than a generation, but in the 1990s, a new generation of American musicians and singers became interested in his work again. Art song enthusiasts savor what are described as "charming, witty pieces."  In 1994, Bowles was visited and interviewed by writer Paul Theroux, who featured him in his last chapter of his travel book, The Pillars of Hercules.
In 1995, Paul Bowles made his final return to New York, invited to a "Paul Bowles Festival" at Lincoln Center celebrating his music; it was performed by Jonathan Sheffer leading the Eos Orchestra. A related symposium on Bowles' work and interview were held at the New School for Social Research.
Visitors in 1998 reported that Bowles' wit and intellect remained as sharp as ever. He continued to welcome visitors to his apartment in Tangier but, on the advice of his doctors and friends, limited interviews. One of the last was an interview with Stephen Morison, Jr., a friend teaching at the American School of Tangier at the time. It was featured in the July/August 1999 issue of Poets & Writers magazine. On June 6, 1999, Irene Herrmann, the executrix of the Paul Bowles Music Estate, interviewed him to focus on his musical career; this was published in September 2003.
Bowles died of heart failure on November 18, 1999 at the Italian Hospital in Tangier 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. He became strongly identified with the city and symbolized American expatriates. Obituary writers always linked his life to his residency there.
When Bowles had first visited Tangier with Aaron Copland in 1931, they were both outsiders to what they perceived as an exotic place of different customs. They were not bound by any local rules, which varied among the many ethnic groups. Tangier was a Moroccan and international city, a longtime trading center, with a population made up of Berber, Arab, Spanish, French and other Europeans, speaking Spanish, French, Berber and Arabic, and professing a variety of religions. Politically it was under the control of a consortium of foreign powers, including the United States. Paul Bowles was entranced by the city's culture. By his return in 1947 the city had of course changed, but he still found it full of strangeness and wonder. In 1955 anti-European riots erupted as the people sought independence. In 1956 the city was returned to full Moroccan control.
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
He was a pioneer in the field of North African ethno-musicology, making 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. Bowles realised that modern culture would inevitably change and influence the practice of traditional music, and he wanted to preserve some of it.
Bowles commented on the political aspects of the practice of traditional music:
"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"; it 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 and collecting stories from the oral tradition of native Moroccan storytellers. His most noteworthy collaborators included Mohammed Mrabet, Driss Ben Hamed Charhadi (Larbi Layachi), Mohamed Choukri, Abdeslam Boulaich, and Ahmed Yacoubi.
He also translated writers whose original work was written in Spanish, Portuguese and French: 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 is considered one of the artists to have shaped 20th-century literature and music. In his "Introduction" to Bowles' Collected Stories (1979,) Gore Vidal ranked the short stories as "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".
Critics have described his music, in contrast, "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, Bowles 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, Bowles 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." Bowles said that such incidental music allowed him 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, assimilating some of the melodic, rhythmic, and other stylistic elements of African, Mexican, and Central American music.
- In 1991 Paul Bowles was awarded the annual Rea Award for the Short Story. 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."
- The Library of America published Bowles' works in 2002. (It prepares scholarly editions of American literary classics and keeps them permanently in print.)
In addition to his chamber and stage compositions, Bowles published fourteen short story collections, several novels, 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, "Paul Bowles: An Introduction", University of Delaware Special Collections
- "Obituary for Paul Bowles", New York Times, 19 November 1999
- Allen Hibbard, "Paul Bowles: A Biographical Essay", Paul Bowles website
- Seidner, David. "Paul Bowles", ‘’BOMB Magazine’’ Fall, 1982. Retrieved on [March 6, 2013]
- Paul Bowles Music, Edited by Claudia Swan, p.43
- "Bowles letter of 9 June 1931 to Edouard Roditi, Berlin," In Touch: The Letters of Paul Bowles
- "Paul Bowles," 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", Paul Bowles website
- Warnow, Catherine; Weinreich, Regina (1993) , "Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider", in Caponi, Gena Dagel, Conversations with Paul Bowles (interview), pp. 214–5.
- 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 (interview), p. 188.
- 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.
- "The Rif to Music," Their Heads are Green and Their Hands are Blue (Random House, 1963), pp. 97 to 141
- Without Stopping (Putnam, 1972): p. 368
- Jeffrey Gray, "Placing the Placeless: A Conversation with Rodrigo Rey Rosa", North Carolina State University
- Pinstripe Fedora, Issue #3
- "Paul Bowles: The Complete Outsider," Interview with Catherine Warnow and Regina Weinreich/ 1988, in Conversations with Paul Bowles, ed. Gena Dagel Caponi, 1993, p. 217
- Art Song of Williamsburg
- Jonathan Sheffer & the Eos Orchestra
- The Last Interview with Paul Bowles, University of California Press
- 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
- Biographies: Paul Bowles, University of California, Berkeley Library,
- 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
- Music of Morocco: The Paul Bowles Recordings for the American Folklife Collection
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)
- NewMusicBox: "Paul Bowles meets with Ken Smith and Frank J. Oteri" (December 1, 1999). Paul Bowles in conversation with Frank J. Oteri on January 1, 1998.
- "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