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British writer Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) was a novelist, poet, and travel writer, best remembered for his Alexandria Quartet of novels, especially the first in the series, Justine. The novels included in the Alexandria Quartet are as follows:
- Justine (1957)
- Balthazar (1958)
- Mountolive (1959)
- Clea (1960)
Born in British India, the son of a colonial official, he began writing as a teen, despite failing his university entrance exams. As a young man, he escaped the weather of England and settled on the Greek island of Corfu, spending the rest of his life as an expatriate.
During his residence on Corfu, Lawrence Durrell struck up a friendship with the author Henry Miller, whose novel Tropic of Cancer became a major influence. The two men began a friendship and collaboration that spanned decades. Durrell and his family were forced to flee Greece with the Nazi occupation, and it was while in Alexandria, Egypt that he wrote Prospero's Cell, which distilled his years on Corfu. During the war, Durrell worked for the British Foreign Service in Egypt.
Justine, the first of his Alexandria Quartet, appeared in 1957. The first three novels in the cycle tell the same story from different perspectives, with the fourth, Clea, advancing and resolving the plot. Durrell eventually in the south of France, where he wrote the Avignon Quartet, an attempt to replicate the success of his Alexandria Quartet. Lawrence Durrell died of a stroke in November 1990. The following year, excerpts from his daughter's journal were published, suggesting that the two had had an incestuous relationship, but scholars are divided as to whether such a relationship actually took place.