Malcolm Lowry (July 28, 1909–June 27, 1957) was born in New Brighton, England, the youngest of four sons of Arthur O. Lowry, a rich Liverpool businessman and devout Methodist. Brought up largely by nannies, he attended the Leys School in Cambridge before shipping out “to see the world” on the merchant steamer Pyrrhus, an ordeal that supplied him with the material for his first novel, Ultramarine. Already a heavy drinker, Lowry studied writing privately with the poet and novelist Conrad Aiken in America before taking a degree at Cambridge. Ultramarine was published in 1933, and that same year Lowry married Jan Gabrial. They were never happy, and often apart; in 1940 they divorced, after which Lowry married Margerie Bonner, a minor Hollywood star whom he had met some years before. Starting in 1936 and while moving restlessly back and forth between Mexico, the US, and Canada, Lowry worked on his great novel Under the Volcano, which went through multiple drafts and was rejected by twelve publishers before coming out in 1947. During the last decade of his life, Lowry’s drinking left him in ever worse health. He and Margerie lived for the most part in a fishing shack in Dollarton, British Columbia, but also traveled widely, and in 1955 they moved to Ripe in Sussex. Lowry’s death two years later, among a litter of bottles and pills, was attributed by the coroner to “misadventure.”
A self-portrait of one of the 20th century’s most compelling and tragic writers, The Voyage that Never Ends draws on Lowry’s stories, several unfinished novels, poems, and letters to present a picture of the whole range his accomplishment to set alongside his masterpiece, Under the Volcano.