Tuesday, 8 July 2014

John Davenport Letter in Spectator September 1961

Sue,—Frank Tuohy's introduction to this greatly gifted writer is as penetrating as might have been expected; but it contains some errors of fact, which should perhaps be repaired immediately, to avoid future misunderstanding.

For instance, it is misleading to say that Lowry 'ran away to sea.' He left the Leys School, Cam- bridge, at the normal leaving age in 1927 (he was born in 1909) and went to sea, working as deckhand and trimmer, for about eighteen months; but he was driven to the Liverpool docks in his solid father's solid motor-car. He had no ambition to be anything other than an ordinary seaman; it was a literary, not a marine, apprenticeship; to go to sea was a psychological need, appreciated by his father. It is also misleading to say that 'he wrote Ultramarine a year later.' The first draft was completed by the time he turned up at Conrad Aiken's apartment in Cam- bridge (Mass.) in' July, 1929. They worked on it together, and I saw the results in November of that year in Cambridge (Eng.). Lowry continued to work on it for the next three years. The final version was completed in the summer of 1932 when it was ac- cepted for publication. The typescript of the fair copy was stolen from lan Parsons's motor-car, and the whole thing had to be re-written from the penulti- mate version. ,It was published by Jonathan Cape in 1933, and represented nearly five years' work.

Read full letter here

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