“The Shadowy Third” appeared in Elizabeth Bowen’s first short story collection Encounters (1923), a grouping of tales that, like much of her writing in the 1920s, focuses on ordinary social interactions and everyday conversation; indeed, one may think in particular of her second short story collection Ann Lee’s (1926) and the novel The Hotel (1927). These early works might account for her reputation as a writer considered to “embody the very bulwark of the conventional and ‘proper,’ of traditional realism and conservative ‘society’” as formulated and refuted by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle (xiv). Bowen herself claimed, “at no time, even in the novel, do I consider realism to be my forte” (Afterthought 80). For if she gives realistic accounts of conventional behaviors, she does so precisely to disrupt them by revealing what lies underneath the varnish of social behavior, like repressed or unexpressed feelings, tensions, or passions coated in polite normalcy. 1 Even if it stands out as the only ghost story in Bowen’s first published work, “The Shadowy Third” can also be seen as a more radical expression of the same underlying tensions. The story chronicles how a deceased wife comes back to disrupt the quiet evening of her husband and his new wife who is expecting a child. As the eerie atmosphere gradually sets in, it is revealed that the first wife died of neglect and unrequited love after losing her own child.