Monday, 6 December 2010

UBC's Copy of Lowry's Ultramarine

Media Release | Feb. 16, 1999

UBC has made a unique and exceptional addition to its Malcolm Lowry collection -- the largest in the world -- with the recent acquisition of Lowry's personal, first edition copy of his first novel Ultramarine, published in 1933.

Lowry's most successful novel, Under the Volcano is ranked as one of the major English literary works of the 20th century. Lowry wrote it in North Vancouver where he lived for many years.

"We already have the first edition of Under the Volcano and Ultramarine is the ultimate scholar's prize," says Prof. Sherrill Grace, head of the English Dept.

The annotated copy of Ultramarine was acquired by UBC at the Pacific Book Auction in San Francisco for $14,000 (US).

"It is a messy book, dog-eared and full of staples and scotch tape with pencil hand-writing all over it. It isn't very pretty," says Grace. "What we see in his copy of the book are the changes in his own writing which he never lived to complete."

The small dark blue hardcover book has been professionally restored to preserve it.

Ultramarine is the story of a naive young upper class Briton who goes to sea as a deckhand in the 1920s and is subjected to rough treatment by the working class crew. Lowry made a similar voyage between leaving public school and entering university and said it was a very unpleasant experience.

UBC Librarian Catherine Quinlan says Ultramarine is a very important addition to the Malcolm Lowry collection, which includes his manuscripts, letters and personal papers.

"We were thrilled to acquire the book. Scholars come from all over the world to UBC to study Malcolm Lowry," Quinlan says. "We've already had half a dozen inquiries about Ultramarine."

The Lowry Collection is housed in the Special Collections and University Archives division in UBC's Main Library.

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