Partner Clemence Dane
Brynarlais, Town Hall, Temple Street, Llandrindod Wells LD1 5DL, UK
St. Mary's Churchyard Hales, Shropshire Unitary Authority, Shropshire, England
Olwen Bowen-Davies (March 4, 1899 – March 3, 1986) published a retelling of the Welsh tales of the Mabinogion for children in 1969. Clemence Dane's will names Olwen Bowen-Davies as an executor and major beneficiary, to inherit her house in St. John's Wood in which her previous lover, Elsie Arnold was at that time living, with the rider that Arnold could live in the home for life if she so wished.
Jessie Constance Rankin (1857-1949) was one of the daughters of Birmingham solicitor, William Rankin (1829-1885), and she married Dr William Bowen-Davies in 1879. At the time of the census of 1891 his home and surgery were at 'Brynarlais', Llandrindod Wells, in Radnorshire where also Jessie, and their five children, Dora, 10, Gwladys, 9, Elystan, 7, Gerwyn, 5, and Essylt, just 5 months old, plus the family's servants, were living. Their sixth child, Olwen, was born 8 years later, in 1899. The doctor was later forced to retire due to heart problems, moving to Exmouth in Devon, and in 1908, he died. With Hitler's bombs falling on Exmouth in the early 1940s, Jessie went to stay at the home of her grandson, Gavin Gibbons, and by the time war was over she was too old to return home and died in Shrewsbury at the age of 92. The former family home, 'Brynarlais', later became the Town Hall and is today the local Tourist Information Office.
Olwen Bowen-Davies was a writer, mainly of children's books, and became the companion of the novelist Clemence Dane (real name Winifred Ashton) whose book, 'The Moon is Feminine' is set in Brighton. They shared homes in London and at 'The Caravans, Midhurst in Sussex.
Olwen Bowen-Davies had replaced Elsie Arnold in Clemence Danes affections. Olwen Bowen-Davies was the author of a number of children's books between 1928 and 1969. The most successful of these, stories about Hepzibah the Hen, were broadcast on Children's Hour in 1934. Clemence and Olwen were probably friends from the late 1920s, when Clemence reviewed Olwen's book Beetles and Things; they were certainly friends in 1936 when Clemence wrote the preface to Olwen's The Hepzibah Omnibus. Although Dane acknowledged that Elsie Arnold had independent financial resources she obviously felt unable to abandon her completely. Dane stated that she wished her trustees to permit to Elsie Arnold to have the use and enjoyment of her St John's Wood's house as long as she lived. By the time Clemence Dane died, nine years later, she was living with Olwen Bowen-Davies in Chelsea, both women were described as 'spinsters'. The net value of the estate that Olwen Bowen-Davies inherited from Clemence Dane was £3 milion. As well as ordinary executors, Clemence Dane appointed literary executors: Olwen Bowen-Davies and Richard Addinsell.
Dane died in 1965 leaving most of her small estate to her secretary-companion, Olwen Bowen-Davies. Olwen lived on till 1986.
The five children are pictured, left, Dora, Olwen and Essylt seated with Elystan and Gerwyn behind.
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