Catherine Drinker Bowen was a Philadelphian with music in her veins....
Into this book she has crammed the joy, comedy, and desperation of a musical life. With the skill of a biographer she sums up the human equation in music with insatiable enthusiasm. She discourses on amateur quartets, fiddlers, wild-eyed cellists, wives who play violas and children who bang the box.
This is a book which musicians will chortle over, a book which the layman will read with dawning delight.
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About the Author
Born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, on the Haverford College campus to a prominent Quaker family, she was an accomplished violinist who studied for a musical career at the Peabody Institute and the Juilliard School of Music, but ultimately decided to become a writer. She had no formal writing education and no academic career, but became a bestselling American biographer and writer.
Her earliest biographies were about musicians. Bowen did all her own research, without hiring research assistants, and sometimes took the controversial step of interviewing subjects without taking notes. A number of Bowen’s books were chosen as Book of the Month Club selections, including Beloved Friend (1937), Yankee from Olympus (1944) and John Adams and the American Revolution (1950).
In 1958 she won the U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction for The Lion and the Throne: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), a biography of the prominent lawyer of Elizabethan England. In addition, Ms. Bowen received the 1957 Philadelphia Award and the 1962 Women’s National Book Association award. Her last book, Family Portrait, received critical acclaim, and was a Literary Guild selection. During her lifetime, she was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Award. In 1962, she became the first woman to receive an honorary degree from Lehigh University.
At the time of Bowen’s death in 1973, she was working on a biography of Benjamin Franklin; the unfinished book was published posthumously as Scenes from the Life of its subject. She is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.