DURRELL, Lawrence

(1912 - 1990)
“It takes a lot of energy and a lot of neurosis to write a novel. If you were really sensible, you'd do something else.”

Novelist, poet and travel writer, Durrell was born in India to English and Anglo Irish parents, and always put his creative imagination down to “a Tibetan mentality” engendered by this mix of nationalities.  He found pre war England to be an overly formal environment, and, determined to be a writer, he persuaded his family (which included his younger brother, the writer and naturalist, Gerald Durrell) to move to Corfu, where the more relaxed lifestyle allowed him to write.  His first novel, Pied Piper of Lovers (1935) was not well recieved, so he invented a pseudonym - Charles Norden - and wrote his second novel, Panic Spring (1937), which was much more successful.  It was whilst he was in Corfu that he began a lifelong friendship and correspondence with Henry Miller, who convinced him to remain firm in denying Faber’s request that he expurgate portions of The Black Book (1938).  In 1942, Durrell, moved to Alexandria, Egypt, ostensibly working as a press attaché for the British Information Office, but in reality noting the sights, sensations and people around him and making notes for what was to become what is possibly his greatest literary accomplishment, The Alexandria Quartet.  It was also in Alexandria that he  met his second wife who was to become the model for Justine, the first of the Quartet, published in 1957. 

A prolific writer of poetry and prose until his death in France 1990, he was described by The Guardian as "one of the best selling, most celebrated English novelists of the late 20th century"


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