Durrell, Lawrence (1912–1990) By Gifford, James
Lawrence Durrell was born in Jalandhar, India under British colonial rule. Both his parents were born in India and never saw England before 1923 when they sent him ‘home’ for schooling. This experience shaped his writing career, and themes of expatriation and exile appear in his autobiographical first novel about this period, Pied Piper of Lovers (1935). Durrell was involved in English Surrealism and formed some of his key aesthetic concepts from Henry Miller’s anarchist rebuttal to surrealism’s communism. He left England in 1935 for Greece, and this move and post-surrealist aesthetic is reflected in his first major experimental novel The Black Book (1938). He did not make England his long-term home again, and after 1968 was designated a British non-patrial without the right to enter or settle in Britain without a visa. His writing career included works from 1931 to 1990, bridged late modernist and postmodern writing, and retained a baroque prose style even as realism grew more fashionable after World War II. He is most famous for his four-volume series The Alexandria Quartet (1957–1962).