Malcolm Lowry

From Academic Kids

Malcolm Lowry (July 28, 1909June 26, 1957) was an English poet and novelist.

Lowry was born in Cheshire, England, and was educated at the Leys School and St Catherine's College, Cambridge. By the time he graduated in 1931, the twin obsessions of alcohol and literature, which would dominate his life, were already firmly in place. Lowry was already well traveled, having sailed to the Far East as a deck hand on the Pyrrhus between school and university and made visits to America and Germany between terms. After Cambridge, Lowry lived briefly in London, existing on the fringes of the vibrant thirties literary scene and meeting Dylan Thomas, amongst others. Following this, he moved to France, where he married his first wife, ex-Hollywood star Jan Gabrial in 1934. It was a turbulent union, and, after an estrangement, Lowry followed her to New York (where he entered the Bellevue Hospital in 1936 following an alcohol-induced break-down) and then to Hollywood, where he tried his hand at screen writing.

The couple moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico in late 1936, in a final attempt to salvage their marriage. This failed, however, and in late 1937, Lowry was left alone in Oaxaca and entered another period of dark, alcoholic excess, culminating in his being deported from the country. In 1939, he moved to Canada, and the following year he married his second wife, Margerie Bonner, an actress and writer. The couple lived and wrote in a squatter's shack on the beach near Dollarton in British Columbia. Though the couple travelled, to Europe, America. and the Caribbean, and Lowry continued to drink heavily, this seems to have been a relatively peaceful and productive period. It would last until 1954, when a final nomadic period ensued, embracing New York and London. amongst other places.

Lowry died in the village of Ripe, East Sussex, where he was living with his wife. Certainly alcohol, and possibly an overdose of anti-depressants, contributed to what the coroner recorded as 'death by misadventure'.

Lowry published little during his lifetime, in comparison with the extensive collection of unfinished manuscripts he left. Of his two novels, Under the Volcano (1947) is now widely accepted not only as his masterpiece, but also as one of the great works of the twentieth century. It exemplifies Lowry's method as a writer, which involved drawing heavily upon autobiographical material and imbuing it with complex and allusive layers of symbolism. Under the Volcano depicts a series of complex and unwillingly destructive relationships and is set against a rich evocation of Mexico.

Ultramarine (1933), written whilst Lowry was still an undergraduate, follows a young man's first sea voyage and his determination to gain the crew's acceptance.

A collection of short stories, Hear Us, O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place (1961) was published after Lowry's death. The scholar and poet Earle Birney edited Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry (1962). She also collaborated with Lowry's widow in editing the novella Lunar Caustic (1968) for republication. It is a conflation of several earlier pieces concerned with Bellevue Hospital, which Lowry was in the process of rewriting as a complete novel. With Douglas Day, Lowry's first biographer, Lowry's widow has also completed and edited the novels Dark as the Grave Wherein my Friend is Laid (1968) and October Ferry to Gabriola (1970) from Lowry's manuscripts.

The Selected Letters of Malcolm Lowry, edited by his widow and Harvey Breit, was released in 1965, followed in 1995-6 by the two volume Sursam Corda! The Collected Letters of Malcolm Lowry, edited by Sherrill E. Grace. Scholarly editions of Lowry's final work in progress, La Mordida and his screen adaptation of Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night have also been issued.

In 1976 Donald Brittain and John Kramer made an Academy Award nominated documentary about him called Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry. [1] (


  • Ultramarine (1933)
  • Under the Volcano (1947) made into a film by John Huston in (1984)
  • Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place (1961, posthumous)
  • Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry (1962)
  • Lunar Caustic (1968, posthumous)
  • Dark as the Grave wherein my Friend is Laid (1968, posthumous)
  • October Ferry to Gabriola (1970, posthumous)


  • Lowry, a Biography, Douglas Day (1973)
  • Volcano: an inquiry into the life of Malcolm Lowry (RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, 1984)
  • Malcolm Lowry Remembered, G. Bowker, ed (1985)
  • Pursued by Furies: A Life of Malcolm Lowry, G. Bowker (1993)
  • Inside the Volcano: My Life with Malcolm Lowry, Jan Gabrial (2000)


  • Bareham, Tony, Modern Novelists: Malcolm Lowry ( St Martins: New York, 1989)
  • Bowker, Gordon, ed, Malcolm Lowry Remembered (Ariel: London, 1985)
  • Bradbrook, M.C., Malcolm Lowry: His Art and Early Life (CUP: Cambridge, 1974)
  • Stevenson, Randall, The British Novel Since the Thirties (Batsford: London 1986)

-- 18:44, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)de:Malcolm Lowry fr:Malcolm Lowry hu:Malcolm Lowry it:Malcolm Lowry


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