The British Library celebrates Lawrence Durrell’s centenary with a CD of rare recordings

Every time is a good time to be a writer’

- Lawrence Durrell

The British Library has today released a new audio CD, The Spoken Word: Lawrence Durrell, to mark the centenary of the novelist and poet. The Spoken Word CD contains a selection of previously unreleased BBC broadcasts in which Durrell reads his poetry and discusses his life and work, together with a unique pair of private recordings of Durrell as a jazz pianist and vocalist.

Featuring Durrell as a poet, novelist and musician, the CD showcases him as one of the leading writers of the post-war years. Born in India and resident at various times in England, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus and France, Durrell was a cosmopolitan spirit, whose work was especially influenced by the Mediterranean places and cultures he experienced. His most famous work is The Alexandria Quartet, a series of novels produced in rapid succession between 1957 and 1960.

The three radio interviews from which extracts are taken – with interviewers Malcolm Muggeridge, D G Bridson and Edward Blishen – cover the whole of Durrell’s creative life, from his early years in India and England, through his periods in Alexandria and Rhodes (including a very detailed discussion about The Alexandria Quartet) to a late interview in which he looks back over his complete life’s work. He ends by concluding that ‘Every time is a good time to be a writer’.

Although Durrell is primarily known as a novelist, it is arguably in his poetry that he has made his most significant and enduring contribution to English literature. This disc includes Durrell reading 12 of his poems and, as a bonus, begins and ends with a pair of rare private recordings in which Durrell accompanies himself at the piano in two songs, ‘Two of a Kind’ and ‘Out of the Blue’.

Rachel Foss, Lead Curator Modern Literary Manuscripts at the British Library, said:

‘We're delighted to be able to bring to a wider audience these rare recordings. They highlight the inter-relationship between Lawrence Durrell's interests in art, philosophy and science and between genre and form, which make him so complex, fascinating and original a writer. The British Library's new Spoken Word CD is one of the many ways in which Durrell's creative legacy will be explored in 2012, his centenary year. ‘

In addition to the new title, on 15 June 2012, the British Library will be hosting an evening event to celebrate the life and work of Lawrence Durrell and explore his ongoing influence in the 21st century. This event forms part of Durrell 2012, a programme of cultural events to mark the writer's centenary. See http://durrell2012.com for more information.


Notes to Editors:

The Spoken Word: Lawrence Durrell is published by the British Library on 27 February 2012, price £10.00. The disc contains 17 recordings, duration 71 minutes (ISBN 978 0 7123 5120 1). The recordings are copyright of the BBC or the British Library Board.

The CD is available from the British Library Shop (tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7735 / e-mail: bl-bookshop@bl.uk) and online at www.bl.uk/shop as well as other bookshops throughout the UK.

Track Listing The Spoken Word: Lawrence Durrell

1 ‘Two of a Kind’
Date of recording: 1935
Duration: 2.22
Jazz song, sung and played by Lawrence Durrell

2 Intimations
Other speaker: Malcolm Muggeridge
Date of broadcast: 19.10.1965
Duration: 18.40 [extract]
Durrell is interviewed about his early life, influences on his writing, and his sensitivity to place and landscape

3 Logos
Date of broadcast: 21.01.1963
Duration: 0.53

4 The Poet
Date of broadcast: 21.01.1963
Duration: 1.03

5 Alexandria
Date of broadcast: 21.01.1963
Duration: 3.08

6 The Tree of Idleness
Date of broadcast: 21.01.1963
Duration: 1.36

7 Conversations with Lawrence Durrell
Other speaker: D G Bridson
Date of broadcast: 27.01.1963
Duration: 12.54
Durrell talks about The Alexandria Quartet

8 Style
Date of broadcast: 29.01.1963
Duration: 1.04

9 Cities, Plains and People VIII
Date of broadcast: 29.01.1963
Duration: 2.40

10 The Anecdotes, IV at Rhodes
Date of broadcast: 29.01.1963
Duration: 1.42

11 On Ithaca Standing
Date of broadcast: 29.01.1963
Duration: 1.15

12 Cavafy
Date of broadcast: 29.01.1963
Duration: 1.46

13 Night Express
Date of broadcast: 29.01.1963
Duration: 1.46

14 Bere Regis
Date of broadcast: 29.01.1963
Duration: 0.54

15 The Octagon Room
Date of broadcast: 29.01.1963
Duration: 2.21

16 Meridian
Other speaker: Edward Blishen
Date of broadcast: 06.08.1985
Duration: 14.30 [extract]
Towards the end of his life Durrell looks back over his achievements and discusses his method of writing, his characters, and his life as a writer

17 ‘Out of the Blue’
Date of recording: 1935
Duration: 2.50
Jazz song, sung and played by Lawrence Durrell

For more information contact:


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