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Press release

  • 29 May 2007

Conference offers day in the life of novelist Lowry

The life and times of one of the twentieth century's great novelists will be reviewed at a special anniversary conference at the University of Sussex on Wednesday 27 June.

The conference marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Malcolm Lowry (1909-57). His best known work, Under the Volcano (1947), is a one-day novel following in the tradition of Virginia Woolf (Mrs Dalloway) and James Joyce (Ulysses), which takes place on Mexico's Day of the Dead and is one of the most significant works of twentieth-century literature.

Entitled Malcolm Lowry: Fifty Years On, the one-day conference is sponsored by the University's Department of English and the Centre for Modernist Studies in the School of Humanities.

Lowry was born in Liverpool and studied at Cambridge during a period of great intellectual ferment and excitement. After many years in Mexico and Canada, he returned to England.

Lowry finally settled in the Sussex village of Ripe after travelling in Europe with his wife, Marjorie Bonner Lowry, who had been a silent movie actress. The cottage in Ripe where he lived still bears a plaque marking his stay and he is buried in the churchyard.

Organisers Professor Andrew Hadfield, head of the department of English and Professor Laura Marcus write: "Lowry's reputation as a major twentieth-century writer is not in question, but the ways in which his work is read are perhaps coloured by an earlier approach to questions of modernism and a mythology of an isolated creativity.

"The conference will re-evaluate his life and work, focusing on areas of particular interest for contemporary literature and culture: the relationship between literature and the cinema; the place of the mid-twentieth century text between Modernism and Post-Modernism; time and narrative; and deconstruction and the literature of excess."

Speakers include: Gordon Bowker (biographer of Lowry); Paul Tiessen (editor of Lowry's letters and numerous other works on Lowry); Randall Stephenson (author of The British Novel Since the Thirties and numerous works on twentieth-century literature); Rod Mengham (editor of The Fiction of the 1940s and British Fiction Today); Helen Tookey (author of Anais Nin, Fictionality and Femininity). John Kraniauskas (author of Mexican Postcards: Critical Studies in Latin America).

Notes for editors

  • Malcolm Lowry: Fifty Years On takes place at the Meeting House, University of Sussex, on Wednesday, 27 June 2007, from 9.30am to 5pm. Conference fee is £10 and includes lunch.
  • Please contact: Professor Laura Marcus ( or Professor Andrew Hadfield ( to register.

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing, tel: 01273 678 888 or email


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