Lawrence Durrell

Other names: 

Lawrence George Durrell

Date of birth: 
27 Feb 1912
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
07 Nov 1990
Location of death: 
Sommières, France
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
27 Apr 1923
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

27 April 1923 - 22 May 1939


36 Hillsborough Road, London


Lawrence George Durrell was born in Jullundur, Punjab, India, in 1912 to Lawrence Samuel Durrell and Louisa Florence Dixie, both of whom were also born in India.

In 1923, the family relocated to England where Durrell attended St Olave's and St Saviour's in Southwark before going to St Edmund's College, Canterbury, which he left in 1927. He despised the gloom of London and longed for the security of colonial superiority in India. After his father's death in 1928, he assumed a bohemian lifestyle in London, and attempted to make a name for himself as a poet.

Durrell's first book of poems, Quaint Fragment, was published in 1931, but it was not until the publication of his novel The Black Book in 1938 that he gained some recognition. He befriended other writers such as Henry Miller, Anais Nin, T. S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas. In late 1938, Durrell arranged a dinner for Eliot and Miller which was also attended by M. J. Tambimuttu; Durrell entertained his guests with songs, one of which he dedicated to Tambimuttu. Durrell also contributed to the first issue of Tambimuttu's Poetry London. The two become good friends, and stayed in touch even after Durrell moved to Greece and later to Egypt. Tambimuttu included Durrell in his Poetry in Wartime (1942) and Durrell continued to contribute pieces for Poetry London.

Durrell only returned to England for short periods when he often met Tambimuttu. The two also met in New York after Tambimuttu moved there. Durrell's later years were marred by several divorces and the deaths of close friends. He spent his last years in France where he died on 7 November 1990.


T. S. Eliot (edited his books at Faber & Faber), M. J. Tambimuttu, Dylan Thomas.

Published works: 

Quaint Fragment (London: Cecil Press, 1931)

Ballad of Slow Decay (1932)

Ten Poems (London: Caduceus Press, 1932)

Pied Piper of Lovers (London: Cassell, 1935)

The Black Book: An Agon (Paris: Obelisk Press, 1938)

'Epitaph', 'Island Fugue', 'The Green Man', 'In a Time Crisis', and 'Letter to Seferis the Greek', in Poetry in Wartime: An Anthology, ed. by M. J. Tambimuttu (London: Faber & Faber, 1942), pp. 41-50

A Private Country (London: Faber & Faber, 1943)

Cities, Plains and People: Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1945)

Cefalu: A Novel (London: Editions Poetry London, 1947)

On Seeming to Presume: Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1948)

Deus Loci: A Poem (Ischia, 1950)

Sappho: A Play in Verse (London: Faber & Faber, 1950)

Key to Modern Poetry (London and New York: Peter Nevill, 1952)

The Tree of Idleness, and Other Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1955)

Esprit de Corps: Sketches from Diplomatic Life (London: Faber & Faber, 1957)

Justine: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1957)

White Eagles over Serbia: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1957)

Balthazar (London: Faber & Faber, 1958)

The Dark Labyrinth (London: Harborough Publishing Co., 1958)

Mountolive (London: Faber & Faber, 1958)

Stiff Upper Lip (London: Faber & Faber, 1958)

Clea (London: Faber & Faber, 1959)

The Alexandria Quartet (London: Faber & Faber, 1962)

An Irish Faustus: A Morality in Nine Scenes (London: Faber & Faber, 1963)

A Persian Lady (Edinburgh: Tragara Press, 1963)

ACTE: A Play (London: Faber & Faber, 1965)

Tunc (London: Faber & Faber, 1968)

Nunquam (London: Faber & Faber, 1970)

The Red Limbo Lingo: A Poetry Notebook (London: Faber & Faber, 1971)

On the Suchness of the Old Boy (London: Turret Books, 1972)

The Plant-Magic Man (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1973)

Monsieur, or, The Prince of Darkness (London: Faber & Faber, 1974)

The Revolt of Aphrodite (London: Faber & Faber, 1974)

Blue Thirst (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1975)

Sicilian Carousel (London: Faber & Faber, 1977)

Livia, or, Buried Alive: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1978)

Sebastian, or, Ruling Passions: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1980)

A Smile in the Mind's Eye (London: Wildwood House, 1980)

Quinx, or, the Ripper's Tale: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1985)

Caesar's Vast Ghost: Aspects of Provence (London: Faber & Faber, 1990)

The Avignon Quintet (London: Faber & Faber, 1992)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Delta (in which he published with Tambimuttu)

Poetry London

Secondary works: 

Aldington, Richard, Literary Lifelines: The Richard Aldington-Lawrence Durrell Correspondence, ed. by Ian S. MacNiven and Harry T. Moore (London: Faber & Faber, 1981)

Baldwin, Peter, Conon's Songs from Exile: The Limited Edition Publications of Lawrence Durrell (Birmingham: Delos, 1992)

Begnal, Michael H., On Miracle Ground: Essays on the Fiction of Lawrence Durrell (London: Associated University Presses, 1990)

Bowker, Gordon, Through the Dark Labyrinth: A Biography of Lawrence Durrell (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1996)

Cardiff, Maurice, Friends Abroad: Memories of Lawrence Durrell, Freya Stark, Patrick Leigh-Fermor, Peggy Gugenheim and Others (London: Radcliffe, 1997)

Durrell, Gerald, My Family and Other Animals (London: Hart-Davis, 1956)

Fraser, G. S., Lawrence Durrell: A Study (London: Faber & Faber, 1968)

Friedman, Alan Warren, Critical Essays on Lawrence Durrell (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987)

MacNiven, I. S., ‘Durrell, Lawrence George (1912–1990)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

MacNiven, I. S. (ed.) The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80 (London: Faber & Faber, 1988)

MacNiven, I. S., Lawrence Durrell: A Biography (London: Faber & Faber, 1998)

Meredith, Don, Where the Tigers Were: Travels Through Literary Landscapes (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2000)

Moore, Harry T., The World of Lawrence Durrell (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962)

Papayanis, Marilyn Adler, Writing in the Margins: The Ethics of Expatriation from Lawrence to Ondaatje (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005)

Perlès, Alfred, My Friend Lawrence Durrell: An Intimate Memoir on the Author of the Alexandria Quartet (Northwood: Scorpion Press, 1961)

Pine, Richard, Lawrence Durrell: The Mindscape (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994)

Robinson, Jeremy, Lawrence Durrell: Between Love and Death, Between East and West (Kidderminster: Crescent Moon, 1995)

Rook, Robin, At the Foot of the Acropolis: A Study of Lawrence Durrell's Novels (Birmingham: Delos Press, 1995)

Sajavaara, Kari, Imagery in Lawrence Durrell's Prose (Helsinki: Société Néophilologique, 1975)

Shaffer, Brian W., A Companion to the British and Irish Novel, 1945-2000 (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005) 

St. Joseph's College, A Century Observed: Souvenir of St. Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling, 1888-1988 (Darjeeling: The College, 1988)

Vander Closter, Susan, Joyce Cary and Lawrence Durrell: A Reference Guide (Boston, MA: G. K. Hall, 1985)

Archive source: 

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Bibliothèque Lawrence Durrell, Université de Paris, Nanterre, France

Correspondence and Mss, incl. MS of Justine, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Gwyn Williams, British Library, St Pancras

Letters and literary Mss, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas

Literary Mss, University of California, Los Angeles

Correspondence and corrected proof of Balthazar, University of British Columbia, Canada