Queer Places:
East Montpelier, VT 05651

After her wedding, Jane Bowles began work on her ovel, Two Serious Ladies, which was finally published in 1943 and typically categorized as a lesbian novel. Piecing together the predicament of simultaneous relationships with Helvetia Perkins and her husband, Paul Bowles worked through bisexual desire in her writing.

During the course of writing this autobiographical narrative, Bowles met Helvetia Orr Perkins (January 17, 1895 – December 15, 1965), who would become her first extramarital lover, in Taxco, Central America, in 1940. Perkins was divorced and had settled in Taxco with her daughter, Eleanor "Nora" D. Perkins, to wait out the war.

Perkins was born in Switzerland, the daughter of Arthur Orr (1851-1905) and Eleanor Noyes (1859-1938), and grew up with several sisters in Evanston, Illinois. She attended private school in the East Coast. She travelled abroad, and lived in Paris with Nora, before joining the community of expatriates in Taxco.

By mid-April 1942, Bowles and Perkins arrived in Palm Beach, Florida, at the home of Perkins' sister, Henrietta Syms Wyeth (wife of Marion Sims Wyeth). After they travelled in New Hampshire and Vermont, during the summer of 1942, Perkins bought a house in East Montpelier, Vermont, where she lived with Bowles, pushing her to concetrate on her writings. In the summer of 1953 Perkins' friend, John La Touche, and his lover, Kenward Elmslie, bought a house near them, in the small town of Calais.

Bowles met again Perkins in the late 1950s, while she was hospitalized in New York. Perkins died in December 1965. For the last months of her life she lived with Kathleen Burgess of Elizabethtown, Illinois, a strong-willed Hardin County Democrat. She operated Burgess Motors between Elizabethtown and Rosiclare.


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