Faber and Virago are to mark the centenary of the birth of author, poet and travel writer Lawrence Durrell this year. Faber is producing new editions of his most well-known work, and Virago a new biography of his marriage to his first wife Nancy Myers.
One of the stars of his brother Gerald Durrell's celebrated memoir My Family and Other Animals, Lawrence Durrell was born in India in 1912, and went on to live in Corfu, Crete, Paris, Egypt and Argentina. He married four times.
Among his most famous works are The Black Book and The Alexandria Quartet, both of which Faber is reissuing this year, with the latter to be re-issued on 16th February as a £14.99 paperback, accompanied by a new introduction by travel writer Jan Morris. Set in wartime Alexandria, the book focuses on central character L G Darley as he tries to come to terms with the end of a passionate affair.
The Black Book, Durrell's third novel, is about a group of debauched intellectuals. It will be re-released on 7th June as a paperback (£8.99) with a new introduction penned by author of Vernon God Little Booker-winner D B C Pierre. Faber will also be releasing all its backlist Durrell titles as e-books.
Publishing director Julian Loose said: "It is wonderful that Faber can mark Lawrence Durrell's centenary year properly, by making all of his extraordinary work—fiction, travel writing and poetry—readily accessible to readers old and new." Loose added that the qualities in Durrell's writing that continue to attract readers today are "a very un-British willingness to experiment and a modernist openness to new ideas about identity," and the fact that he is "a magnificent writer of place and a very fine story-teller".
Meanwhile, Virago's Amateurs in Eden: The Story of a Bohemian Marriage, written by Nancy Durrell's daughter, Joanna Hodgkin, was published this week [9th February] as a £25 hardback. The biography focuses on Nancy growing up in a dysfunctional family, and transforming into a bohemian and luminous figure of the 1930s and beyond.
Virago editorial director Lennie Goodings said she thought the book would appeal to Durrell fans, but added: "They are having to reawaken that interest. I'm not absolutely depending on that readership; it's much more the bohemian marriage that is a story in its own right. It picks up on a passage of time that wasn't looked at before."