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Lawrence Durrell


Lawrence Durrell was born in Jullundur (Jalandhar) in India in 1912. Both of his parents were also born in India. At age eleven he was sent to England which he found dreary. He failed his exams and resolved to become a writer, though he had various jobs in England including one as a jazz pianist. He went to Paris where he wrote his first novel, which was not a success so he invented a pseudonym – Charles Norden – for the second one, Panic Spring. At this time he was also writing poetry but with equal lack of success. In 1935 he managed to persuade his mother, wife (Nancy Myers) and siblings to move to the warmer climate of Corfu, both to save money but also because it was warmer. This changed his outlook on life.

At this time he started correspondence with Henry Miller – a friendship that was to continue till Miller’s death. It was Miller who urged him not to cut out portions of The Black Book as Faber was urging. Durrell followed Miller’s advice. In 1941 the family had to leave Corfu because of the advancing German army and moved to Cairo. Durrell separated from his wife and moved to Alexandria where he worked in the British Information Office. It was here that he met (and later married) Eve Cohen who was to become the model for Justine in his most famous novel, The Alexandria Quartet: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea.

After the war, he returned to Greece (specifically to Rhodes). After spending time in Argentina and Yugoslavia, he went to Cyprus but was caught up in the war there. However he did start writing The Alexandria Quartet: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea. He moved to Sommières in the South of France where he spent the rest of his life. He married twice more – Claude-Marie Vincendon died of cancer and he divorced Ghislaine de Boysson. He died in 1980. His brother, Gerald, was a well-known zoologist and wrote many successful animal stories.

Books about Lawrence Durrell

Gordon Bowker: Through the Dark Labyrinth: a Biography of Lawrence Durrell
Ian MacNiven: Lawrence Durrell: a Biography (standard biography)
Alan Thomas: Lawrence Durrell, an Illustrated Checklist
John A. Weigel: Lawrence Durrell

Other links

Lawrence Durrell
Lawrence Durrell
Lawrence Durrell
The International Lawrence Durrell Society
Durrell School of Corfu


1931 Quaint Fragment: Poems Written Between the Ages of Sixteen and Nineteen
1932 Ten Poems
1933 Bromo Bombastes: A Fragment From a Laconic Drama by Gaffer Peeslake, Which Same Being a Brief Extract From His Compendium of Lisson Devices
1934 Transition: Poems
1935 Pied Piper of Lovers
1937 Panic Spring (as Charles Norden)
1938 The Black Book
1938 Proems
1943 A Private Country
1945 Prospero’s Cell: A Guide to the Landscape and Manners of the Island of Corcyra
1946 Cities, Plains and People
1947 Cefalù (republished as Dark Labyrinth)
1947 Two Excursions Into Reality
1948 On Seeming to Presume
1950 Sappho: A Play in Verse
1952 A Key To Modern British Poetry (aka A Key To Modern Poetry)
1952 Selected Poems
1953 Reflections on a Marine Venus
1955 The Tree of Idleness
1957 Bitter Lemons
1957 Esprit De Corps: Sketches From Diplomatic Life
1957 Justine
1957 White Eagles Over Serbia
1958 Balthazar
1958 Mountolive
1958 Stiff Upper Lip
1959 Art and Outrage: A Correspondence About Henry Miller Between Alfred Perles and Lawrence Durrell
1960 Clea
1960 Collected Poems
1961 The Dark Labyrinth
1962 The Alexandria Quartet: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea
1962 Lawrence Durrell and Henry Miller: A Private Correspondence
1963 Beccafico/Le Becfigue
1963 An Irish Faustus: A Morality in Nine Scenes
1965 Acte
1966 The Ikons
1966 Sauve Qui Peut
1968 Tunc
1969 Spirit of Place: Letters and Essays on Travel
1970 Nunquam
1971 The Red Limbo Lingo: A Poetry Notebook
1971 Down the Styx
1972 On the Suchness of the Old Boy
1972 Le Grand suppositoire, entretiens avec Marc Alyn (The Big Supposer: a Dialogue with Marc Alyn)
1973 The Happy Rock
1973 The Plant-Magic Man
1973 Vega and Other Poems
1974 The Grey Penitent
1974 The Best of Antrobus
1974 Lifelines
1974 Monsieur or The Prince of Darkness
1974 The Revolt of Aphrodite (contains the text of both Tunc and Nunquam)
1975 Blue Thirst
1977 Sicilian Carousel
1978 The Greek Islands
1978 Livia or Buried Alive
1980 Collected Poems, 1931-1974
1980 A Smile in the Mind’s Eye
1982Constance or Solitary Practices
1983 Sebastian or Ruling Passions
1985 Antrobus Complete
1985 Quinx or The Ripper’s Tale
1988 The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80
1988 Letters to Jean Fanchette
1990 Caesar’s Vast Ghost (reprinted as Provence)
2005 Too Far To Hear The Singing (poetry)
2012 Judith (novel)