Lowry, Malcolm (Clarence Malcolm Lowry) [key], 1909–57, English novelist, b. New Brighton, Wirral. Lowry is widely recognized as an important writer who effectively articulated the spiritual desolation of the individual in the 20th cent. While still a student at Cambridge he wrote his first novel, Ultramarine (1933), later reworked and published in final form in 1962. His reputation is founded on his second novel, Under the Volcano (1947), a subtle and complex study of the dissolution of an Englishman's character. Set in Mexico during a 12-hour period on the Day of the Dead, the novel is highly autobiographical. Like his hero Geoffrey Firmin, Lowry was an alcoholic whose addiction all but destroyed his family life and caused him to seek peace in such disparate locales as the United States, British Columbia, and Mexico. Lowry's other works, all published posthumously, include Selected Poems (1962); two volumes of short stories, Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place (1961) and Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend Is Laid (1968); a novel, Lunar Caustic (1968); and a miscellaneous collection of stories, poems, fragments, and letters, The Voyage That Never Ends (2007).
See his collected letters (2 vol., 1995–97, ed. by S. E. Grace); biographies by G. Woodcock (1971) and G. Bowker (1995); studies by A. Smith, ed. (1978), B. Wood, ed. (1980), R. K. Cross (1983), T. Bareham (1989), P. Thiessen, ed. (1990), S. E. Grace, ed. (1992), and F. Asals and P. Tiessen, ed. (2000).
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