|Lawrence George Durrell was born in India into an Anglo-Irish family: his Indian birthplace remained forever fixed in his imagination. He was sent back to England to be educated at a boarding school, but he failed to thrive, and did not do well enough to enter a university. Instead, after a brief stint as a jazz pianist, he moved to Paris and committed himself to becoming a writer. He published his first novel in 1935, when he was only 23, and in an attempt at larger sales, published a second under the name Charles Norden. However, it wasn't until the publication of THE BLACK BOOK in 1938 that anyone took him seriously as a writer: the book wasn't published in England until 1973, and was considered pornographic. (It was heavily influenced by Henry Miller, a lifelong friend.) To escape the English weather and what he considered the country's monumental dreariness, he moved with his first wife--and also his mother and his siblings--to Greece in 1935, where the family lived for six years in Corfu and then Athens, leaving only when forced to flee to Cairo in 1941 as the Nazis approached. (His brother Gerald Durrell described life there in his entertaining memoir MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS, published in 1956.) Durrell and his wife separated the next year, and he became an attach for the British Information Service in Alexandria--a city that was to provide a focus for his greatest work, THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET, which he began writing in the '50s. He also remarried: his second wife was a Jewish Egyptian woman who served as the model for the heroine of his novel JUSTINE. The Durrells returned to Greece after the war, then lived in Argentina and Yugoslavia for brief periods when Lawrence worked in various capacities for the British government. Finally, in 1952, he moved back to Cyprus, where he was able to write in comparative peace until political conditions again forced him out, and he and his wife settled in the south of France--and here he remained for the rest of his life. Durrell married two more times; his third wife died of cancer, and his fourth marriage broke up in 1979. He had four daughters, one of whom committed suicide in 1985. Durrell was plagued with emphysema for years; he died of a stroke at his home in Sommires, at the age of 78.