Sunday, 20 May 2012

James Furniss

A childhood friend of Lowry's who he met at Braeside School in 1914. Born 1908. Lowry became friendly with the rest of the Furniss family including James's parent John and Mary plus their other children John Cooper (b. 1903), William Dann (b. 1906) and Paul (b. 1909). John Furniss was a solicitor and the family lived at 2 Grosvenor Road, West Kirby when Lowry became friends with James. The family moved to Clevelands, 103 Meols Drive in 1920. The family and their Meols Drive home were immortalised in Under The Volcano as the Taskersons. Lowry played golf with the Furniss family at Caldy Golf Course and later at the Royal Liverpool course in Hoylake.

S.S. Wolfsburg



The Wolfsburg is a ship on which the character Hans Popplereuter, a German sailor is sailing on in Lowry's novel Ultramarine. 


The Wolfsburg 6201grtwas launched in 1916. In 1919, surrendered to Britain as war reparations, 1920 sold to Hogarth Shipping Co, renamed Baron Lovat, 1924 repurchased by Hansa Line.


In 1940, the British cruiser HMS Berwick stopped the Wolfsburg, which was disguised as Norwegian ship Aust, north of Iceland. Wolfsburg was scuttled by her crew of 54, who were all subsequently rescued by Berwick. Berwick sank Wolfsburg by gunfire before departure.


"I am on the Wolfsburg" (Pg. 83); "That is the Wolfsburg." The German pointed. "So". I looked at a silhouette, with a dancing reflection of mast lights in the water." (Pg. 83) "Well what do you say you let the Wolfsburg look after herself for the time being and come into the town?" (Pg. 83); "The Wolfsburg is a tramp ship, though". (Pg. 83); "There was a sustained bass roar in reply, and the Wolfsburg, with her black hull and one large black smokestack, glided by, butting the translucent silver of the bay." (Pg. 152)

D/S Hilda


Delivered in Aug.-1925 from Trondhjems mek. Verksted A/S, Trondheim as Hilda (189) to A/S Djerv (Bachke & Co.), Trondheim. 1236 gt, 670 net, 1875 tdwt, 237' (loa) x 36' 4" x 16' 8", Triple exp. steam engine, 690 ihp.Owner: A/S Djerv Manager: Bachke & Co., Trondheim. Hilda was bombed and sunk by British aircraft on Oct. 21-1941, while in a German convoy, on a voyage from Rotterdam to Gothenburg with a cargo of coal. No casualties.

Lowry refers to the ship in his novel Ultramarine; "Let me tell you this when I was in Belawandelli, it was on a Norwegian bastard out of Trondheim, the Hilda—" (Pg. 128).


D/S Marstenen


Lowry refers 9 times to a ship called Martensen in his novel Ultramarine. The ship is Norwegian out of Oslo. The only ship with a name that is near to the Martensen on the Norwegian records is the D/S Marstenen. Given Lowry's prolific mis-spelling of names then the ship he refers to in the novel is more than likely the Marstenen.

Built in Fredrikstad, Norway in 1915. Tonnage: 1832 gt, 1114 net, 3050 tdwt. 8/1915: A/S D/S Marstenen (Vilh.Torkildsen) Bergen;  2/1938: Skibs A/S Vilhelm Torkildsens Rederi(Vilh.Torkildsen) Bergen   Launched as Viv. Manager: Vilhelm Torkildsen, Bergen. Sank 1940 - See her fate on War Sailors.

"The last ship on the wharf was the Martensen, from Oslo. But the Martensen was as silent as a graveyard on a dead planet. (Pg. 84); "There's a Norwegian ship in dock, Norman," I said. "Let's go there. What ship?" "T.S. Martensen" (Pgs. 97-98); "On - on to the Martensen" (Pg.100); "the S.S. Leeway from Swansea had docked forward of the Martensen." (Pg. 101); "Come on, let's all go to the Martensen." But the Martensen still seemed deserted." (Pg. 102); The Martensen was following close to stern." (Pg. 155); The Martensen changed he course eastward, their firemen were now dumping ashes overside." (Pg. 155).

Harriet Lane


" Harriet Lane" refers to sailors calling canned meat by that name after a famous murder in 1874. Henry Wainwright was a brushmaker who murdered his mistress Harriet Lane in September 1874 and buried her body in a warehouse he owned. When he was declared bankrupt the next year, he disinterred the body in September 1875 and attempted to rebury it with his brother Thomas and another brushmaker, Alfred Stokes. Stokes was suspicious of the contents of the parcels he had been given to carry, and opened one, revealing human body parts, which he immediately reported to police. The crime was given more publicity at the time than those of Jack the Ripper. Henry Wainwright was sentenced to death and hanged on 21 December 1875.

Lowry's used many slang phrases in his novel Ultramarine probably based on the notes he kept of conversations between the sailors on board S.S. Pyrrhus during his 1927 voyage to the Far East. Lowry used the phrase Harriet Lane 3 times in Ultramarine:

"My gawd, but it was a hungry ship. Vegetables mashed up with lot of ship's biscuit for breakfast, a cupful of scouse for dinner, and a slab of Harriet Lane for tea-" (Pg. 177).

"Now I was telling you about this hungry ship. We were carrying a cargo of Crosse and bloody Blackwell's plum puddings and tinned chickens and all sorts out East for the Christmas season. Ruddy murder it was to think of all that food under the hatches and us poor twats forward eating Harriet Lane all the time."( Pg. 177)

"-I remember I was on a boat once, an old Rusian bastard she was, never 'ad a coat of paint on 'er and she was carrying a cargo of potted meats - oh boy - and tins of peas and things, for Jesus sake. And the boat was as hungry as hell. Worse than this packet she was giving us Harriet Lane." (Pg.179)


Saturday, 19 May 2012

D/S Henrik Ibsen



Gordon Bowker in Pursued By Furies relates that Lowry was told by Nordahl Grieg that the ship portrayed in his novel Skibet gaar videre (The Ship Sails On) 1924 was actually the Henrik Ibsen based on a voyage made by Grieg on the ship. (Pg. 126). Bowker further states that Lowry claimed that he originally intended to call the ship depicted  in his novel Ultramarine - Henrik Ibsen.

The Henrik Ibsen was built by Sir Raylton Dixon & Co. Ltd., Middlesbrough in 1906. Tonnage: 4671 gt. Delivered in Dec.-1906 to Vilhelm Torkildsen e.a., Bergen. From 1914, owners were A/S D/S Henrik Ibsen (Vilhelm Torkildsen), Bergen. From Dec.-1938, Skibs A/S Solvang (A. Gowart Olsen), Stavanger. Owner: Skibs-A/S Solvang, Scrapped in 1952 in U.K

Amy Lowell's House, Brookline,


Poet Amy Lowell (1874-1925) was born in Brookline, near Boston, on a 10-acre estate “Sevenels” at 70 Heath Street to a wealthy and prominent New England family. She lived in the elegant mansion all her life, redecorating many of the rooms according to her own taste after the death of her parents.

Lowry refers to Amy Lowell's house in his novel Ultramarine in which the protagonist Dana Hilliot recalls; " strolling with my father through the Harvard Yard, passing the Widener Library, so absurdly like our Bibliotheket, and Amy Lowell's house."

Lowry must have become familiar with Amy Lowell's house during his trip to the USA in 1929 to visit Conrad Aiken.

Widener Library, Harvard


Widener Library, which opened on June 24, 1915, commemorates Harry Elkins Widener (born January 3, 1885 in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania), a 1907 Harvard graduate, who was a book collector and victim of the Titanic disaster. His mother, Eleanor Elkins, made a $3.5 million donation to Harvard University to build a library named after him. The library was designed by Horace Trumbauer & Associates, the architect of many private houses for the intertwined Elkins and Widener families of Philadelphia including the renowned Lynnewood Hall. The Associate responsible for designing Widener Library was the chief designer of the firm, architect Julian F. Abele, the first major African American architect.

Lowry refers to the library in his novel Ultramarine in which the protagonist Dana Hilliot compares the Universitetsbiblioteket in Oslo to the Widener Library in Harvard; " strolling with my father through the Harvard Yard, passing the Widener Library, so absurdly like our Bibliotheket, and Amy Lowell's house." (Pg. 51).

Lowry must have become familiar with the Widener Library during his trip to the USA in 1929 to visit Conrad Aiken.

Universitetsbiblioteket, Oslo


The University Library in Oslo was established in 1811 acting as the Norwegian National Library until 1999. Lowry refers to the library in his novel Ultramarine in which the protagonist Dana Hilliot compares the library to the Widener Library in Harvard; " strolling with my father through the Harvard Yard, passing the Widener Library, so absurdly like our Bibliotheket, and Amy Lowell's house." (Pg. 51). The library which Lowry refers to is the one purpose built at Henrik Ibsen's gate, which was designed by architect Holger Sinding-Larsen. The University Library moved into the 2nd January 1914, but the building was not completed until 1922.

Lowry must have been familiar with the library from his visit to Oslo on his 1931 trip to Norway.




D/S Nina

Painted by, Jan Goedhart, Holland

Gordon Bowker in Pursued By Furies relates how Lowry, upon arriving in Alesund aboard the S.S. Fagervik on his trip to Norway on 1931, tries to get a job on a ship to continue to Oslo to meet Nordahl Grieg. (Pg.125)

Captain Skaugen of the S.S. Fagervik introduced Lowry to a captain of a collier from Danzig (Gdańsk) to try and get him a job. The ship's name was the Nina which appealed to Lowry as by coincidence he had been shown a poem by a teacher from Alesund about Nordahl Grieg written by a "Nina". However, Lowry failed to get a job due to the captain wanting only to hire Norwegians.

The Nina was probably a ship owned by J.Kielland Peterssen as that is the only ship ever registered in Norway with that name.

Built in May 1917 by Olsen Brothers, CA and named Holm. Length: 240.2 Width: 36.2 Draft: 16.8Gross tonnage:1371 Net tonnage:803 Dead weight: 2255. 1919: D / SA / S Holmen (Olsen Brothers) Stavanger do;12/1921: A / S Eidsvold (ATSimonsen) Kristiania / Oslo Eidsvold, 1/1929: Rederi A / S Nina (J.Kielland Peterssen) Oslo Nina;  8/1933: Rederi A / S Nina (Jan Dedichen) Oslo do;  1/1935: Rederi A / S Nina (Erling Mortensen) Oslo do; 10/1944.

There is conflicting information about the ship's fate in WW11 - possibly struck a mine and sank on Oct. 27-1944 at Schulz's Grund, in the Kattegatt; or sank in the RAF minefield "Silver XIII", 56 12N 11 20E on the above date. Some confusion here; on another page he says that the steamer Nina (this time he gives her 1371 gt) was sunk on Dec. 27-1944 in 56 10N 11 17E. War Sailors

There is another possible non-Norwegian ship called the Nina which might have been the ship Lowry tried to ship out of Alesund on which looks more like a collier. The ship below is flying the Finnish flag and registered to the port of Loviisa in South Finland.


The Nina was built 1899 by A.G. 'Neptun', Rostock as Martha Russ Ernst Russ, Hamburg. 2007 grt. Surrendered to the Shipping Controller 1920.Bought by Calvert in 1921 and renamed Fredrick Larssen. Sold in 1927 as Nina to R. Nordstrom of Loviisa, Finland.Broken up in July 1963 at Helsinki. The photograph below shows the ship being loaded with coal at Goole. (Information and photograph courtesy of  Goole Ships)



Friday, 18 May 2012

S.S. Maharaja



Lowry refers to a ship called Maharajah in his novel Ultramarine; "I picked it up, the finest dose you ever saw, voyage before last in the Maharajah - she's lying in this port now" (Pg. 34); "The German and I were spelling out together Maharajah - Liverpool and I explained gaily, even proudly, that she was the sister ship to Oedipus Tyrannus." (Pg. 84). Lowry is probably referring to an Asiatic Steam Navigation Company ship called S.S. Maharaja. There were 3 vessels with his name that sailed for the company. The ship could be either the one built in 1904 or the later one built in 1927.


S.S. Maharaja (2) was built in 1904 by Charles Connell & Company Scotstoun, Yard No 283. Engines by Dunsmuir & Jackson Ltd, Glasgow. Last Name: BOKO MARU (1941). Previous Names: SAGRES (1931) ZUISHO MARU (1927) MAHARANI (1926). Propulsion: T3cy 277nhp 12kn. Launched: Wednesday, 02/03/1904. Ship Type: Steamship.Tonnage: 2264grt, 1434nrt. Length: 300 feet. Breadth: 40.6 feet. Draught: 21ft7. Owner History: Asiatic Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Liverpool, 1927 Machida Shokai KK, Kobe, 1931 Botelho Bros, Macao, 1936 Kin Hong Steam Ship Co (mng Williamson & Co), Hong Kong 1941 Japanese Government Status: Torpedoed & Sunk - 09/08/1944. Seized by Japan off the Chinese coast on 8/12/1941. Torpedoed by a submarine USS BARBEL off Ryuku Islands in 27.52N 128.49E.


S.S. Maharaja (3) was built in 1927 at Lithgows Port Glasgow,Yard No 795.Engines by Rankin & Blackmore, Greenock Last Name: SANG DJAJA (1968) Previous Names: JENNIFER (1957), MALAYA FIR (1957), ADRI IX (1961), SANG GAYO (1962). Propulsion: T3cy 1scr 405nhp. Ship Type: Cargo Vessel.Tonnage: 2895 grt, 1716nrt, 3880 dwt. Length: 348.2 feet, Breadth: 47.6 feet, Draught: 21.9 feet. Owner History: Asiatic Steam Nav Co, London, 1956 Ebony Steam Ship Co (mng Wheelock Marden & Co Ltd), Hong Kong, 1957 Hongkong Fir Shipping Co Ltd (mng Fir Line Ltd), Hong Kong, 1958 Cia de Nav Abeto SA, Panama, 1961 Republic of Indonesia Army, Jakarta and 1962 PT Pel. Sang Saka, Jakarta.



S.S. Leeway

The SS Leeway was launched on 03/03/1897 originally named SS Sahara built by Alexander Stephen & Sons Glasgow; Ship Type: Cargo Vessel, Tonnage: 4089 grt, Length: 370.1 feet (BP), Breadth: 48 feet. Propulsion: Steam, triple expansion, single screw. The ship was renamed several times; 1920 Marshal French, 1922 Leeway, 1925 Charterhurst and finally Bianca Bianchi in 1927. The ship had several owners: Glasgow Nav. Co. (Maclay & McIntyre), Glasgow, 1915 Houlder, Middleton & Co., London, 1919 Saint David's SN Co., Cardiff, 1922 St. Mary SS Co., Cardiff, 1925 Charter Shipping Co., Cardiff 1927 G.R.Bianchi, Genoa. The ship was scrapped on 17/07/1928.

Lowry refers to the ship in his novel Ultramarine; "One of those bloody St Mary Axe Boats; the Leeway is knocking around here. Only its wings aren't clipped." (Pg. 33), "Then we were standing on the wharf, looking up at the soaring stern of the S.S. Leeway from Swansea which had docked forward of the Martensen." (Pg. 101); "He spat; the spittle landed on the "Y" of Leeway and dribbled down slowly into the harbour." (Pg. 102).

Lowry's reference to the ship is probably due to members of the crew of Pyrrhus, on which Lowry sailed to the Far East, being familiar with South Wales where the Leeway had been based and the fact that the former owners St. Mary SS Co. were being investigated by the authorities for the loss of one of their ships the SS Eastway co-owned with Mr. Watkin James Williams. (See St Mary Axe Boats).

S.S. Bowes Castle



Originally named Solfels built by J C Tecklenburg AG, Wesermünde as yard number 255 and launched on 8 April 1913, being completed the following month. She entered service with the Hansa Line, Bremen on 22 May 1913 and served with them for six years until taken as a war prize on 25 May 1919, passing to the British Shipping Controller under the management of H. Hogarth & Sons. In 1920, Solfels was sold to the Lancashire Shipping Company, who renamed her Bowes Castle, under the management of Chambers & Co.

In August 1921, forty Mongolian stowaways were discovered aboard Bowes Castle at New York. John Thomas, an engineer on Bowes Castle was charged with conspiracy to violate the United States immigration laws.

Bowes Castle was sold to Achille Lauro, Naples in October 1932, being renamed Angelina Lauro. On 10 June 1940, Angelina Lauro was interned at Liverpool and taken into Ministry of War Transport ownership on 23 July 1940 under the management of Galbraith, Pembroke & Company, London and renamed Empire Advocate. She served for five years and was sold for scrapping on 16 February 1945 to P. & W. Maclellan Ltd, Bo'ness.

Lowry refers to the ship in his novel Ultramarine; "I was third mate, son, once; lost my ticket through the booze - on an old Chambers tramp out of Liverpool S.S. Bowes Castle." (Pg. 59)

Lancashire Shipping Co. Ltd / James Chambers & Co



James Chambers started his own shipping company in 1865 after having been a partner for nine years in the White Star Line of Australian Packets (later famous as the White Star Line). In 1867 James Chambers took over the Lancaster Shipowners Company a newly formed company in which he registered his sailing ships.

By the time of his death in 1877 the Lancaster Shipowners Company owned seven sailing ships and the business was then managed by his son Walter J. Chambers.

On fourteen November 1896 the Lancashire Shipping Co. Ltd was formed to take over from the Lancaster Shipowners Company. At the turn of the century the fleet consisted of eight steamers and two sailing ships. Fifteen ships joined the Chambers fleet between 1900 and 1915.

Two ships were lost due enemy action during World War I and three ships were purchased during that period, while three German prizes entered the fleet between 1919 and 1921. During the second half of the 1920s five motorships were built for the company and by 1930 at the onset of the Great Depression the fleet numbered fourteen ships including eight steamers, but all the eight steamers were sold during the next six years.

The management of the company between 1923 and 1927 was done by James Chambers grandson and after his death in 1927 Samuel Chambers and his nephew Allan Chambers took command of the company.

Read more on The Ship List

Lowry refers to the company in his novel Ultramarine; "I was third mate, son, once; lost my ticket through the booze - on an old Chambers tramp out of Liverpool S.S. Bowes Castle." (Pg. 59)

H.M.S. Danae


H.M.S. Danae was laid down on 1 December 1916 in the Armstrong Whitworth Shipyard in Walker-on-Tyne and launched on 26 January 1918. The lead ship of her class, she was one of the fastest cruisers of her times. Propelled by two Brown-Curtis steam turbines of 40,000 HP, 6 cauldrons and 2 propellors, she could travel at 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph). With 1,060 tons of oil in her tanks, she had a range of 1,480 nautical miles (2,740 km; 1,700 mi) at 29 knots and 6,700 nautical miles (12,400 km; 7,700 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). She was also decently-armoured, with the sides and the command deck protected with 3 inches (76 mm) of reinforced steel, the tanks and munition chambers with 57 mm, and the main deck with 2 inches (25 mm).

Read more on Wikipedia


Transferred to the Mediterranean, between 1927 and 1929 Danae served as an escort of the 1st Cruiser Squadron, after which she was withdrawn to Great Britain for refurbishment and modernisation. In 1930 she returned to active service and was attached to the 8th Cruiser Squadron stationed in the British West Indies. In 1935, at the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, she escorted various evacuation convoys from Shanghai to Hong Kong and was fired at by the Japanese Navy.

Lowry refers to the ship in his novel Ultramarine: " I went ashore in Shanghai - that time we played cricket against all those swaddies, with the firemen from H.M.S. Danae looking on." (Pg. 58). Lowry refers to the same cricket match in his short story 'China' in which the ship is called H.M.S. Proteus. There is no record of H.M.S. Danae being in Shanghai in 1927 when Lowry was in the port on board S.S. Pyrrhus. It is possible that Lowry may have noted the ship's name as he passed through the Mediterranean en route to the Far East in 1927.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo


The National Gallery of Norway (Norwegian: Nasjonalgalleriet) is a gallery in Oslo, Norway. Since 2003 it is administratively a part of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design.

It was established in 1842 following a parliamentary decision from 1836. Originally located in the Royal Palace, Oslo, it got its own museum building in 1882, designed by Heinrich Ernst and Adolf Schirmer.


Lowry probably visited the gallery in 1931 as part of his trip to Norway. The assumption of his visit is based on a drawing made on the back of a letter to Conrad Aiken dated September 1931 of Edvard Munch's Gerschrei (1895), which Lowry entitled "The Shriek". Munch's lithograph was then housed in the Nasjonalgalleriet.

Liverpool School of Art



The Art School was located at 68 Hope Street when Carol Brown, Lowry's childhood friend attended. There is no record of Lowry visiting the art school but it is not impossible to believe that during his infatuation with her during 1926 that he may have met her there. Lowry wrote to her in April 1926 asking for the address of the Art School.

The building is now vacant and awaiting redevelopment. Here is the listed status details:

Front 1910 by Willink and Thicknesse. 2 storeys, 12 bays, centre rectangular porch, rusticated, with cornice; fluted Doric columns attached to doorway. Centre 3 bays have tripartite windows and are sashed with glazing bars. Flanking 3-bay bows with pilasters. 3 bays to left. Entablature and parpaet; mansard roof with flat-topped dormers. Iron area railings. Mount Street front and 3-bay return to Hope Street. 1882 by Thomas Cook. 2 storeys with basement, 13 bays. 3-bay ends and centre bays break forward. Flat pilasters and entablatures to each floor. Ground floor round-headed windows, swags on apron panels. 1st floor end wondows are round-headed with flat-topped dormers. Centre pedimented panel with date. English Heritage



There is an interesting mural located on one of the inner walls of 68 Hope Street painted by a former student circa late 20's. The mural is believed to be Bidston Hill and shows an outing of the Art School students possibly on a painting/drawing trip. It is possible that the mural was completed during Carol Brown's time at the Art School.




Braeside School, West Kirby



Lowry attended the Braeside Preparatory School between 1914 and 1916. The school used to be located in Kirby Park, West Kirby, which is under a mile from Lowry’s second home, Inglewood in Caldy. At the time, Kirby Park was the name of the southern area of West Kirby, with its own railway station on the West Kirby to Hooton line. Kirby Park today is one road in the south of West Kirby containing many large houses. At some point in the 1900s, or perhaps earlier, the road the school was in was renamed as Devonshire Road.


The school occupied two semi-detached Victorian houses numbered 17, 19, 21 and 23, with a playing field across the road, which still exists and is now a play area for local children. No. 19, whose house bears the nameplate ‘Braeside’ still has graffiti carved into woodwork on the stairs from the building’s time as a school, which closed before the Second World War.

The 1901 trade journal, Porter’s Directory for West Kirby, Hoylake, Heswall etc, contained an advert for the Braeside Preparatory School giving details of the school’s curriculum and philosophy:

The Rev. A.G. Cox (late scholar of Hertford College, Oxford and Assistant Master of Bromsgrove and Birkenhead Schools) receives boys from 7 to 15 years age to prepare them for the Public Schools.

Both at Bromsgrove (for 2.5 years) and at Birkenhead (for 9 years), Mr Cox acted in the capacity of House Master in the School House, and had special opportunities for becoming thoroughly acquainted with the internal management and discipline of a Boarding School.

The School Course includes instruction in Latin, Greek, French, Mathematics (German, Music, Singing and Drawing, if required), together with a general knowledge of the Bible. It is Mr Cox’s aim to maintain a high moral as well as intellectual standard. He feels that the development of character must necessarily be largely guided by the influences brought to bear upon a young boy at school, and he endeavours to pay as much attention to each individual out of school hours as well as the classroom. He hopes the boys entrusted to him will be prepared in every way for the wider life of the Public Schools.

Mr Cox has the assistance of Resident Masters for French and Mathematics, and of Music and Singing Teachers, and Drill Sergeant.

The domestic arrangements are in the hands of a Lady Matron, who does everything to secure the comfort and health of the boys.

A Prospectus of the School will be supplied on application to the Head Master.

The House stands in a very healthy position; there is a Carpenter’s Shop and an excellent Gymnasium attached to the School as well as a field for cricket and football, commanding a full view of the mountains and the sea.

Not only do we get a flavour of the school day for Malcolm but also perhaps an indication of why Arthur Lowry sent his sons Malcolm and Russell to the school: Mr Cox’s aim ‘to maintain a high moral as well as intellectual standard’ must have appealed to Arthur’s Wesleyan philosophy as much as the short distance his sons had to travel. The availability of a sports field and gymnasium must also have appealed to the health-conscious Arthur.

Bruce Thompson

A friend of ML's who he met a the Braeside School. He used to play golf with Thompson during his teenage years. Born in 1909. His father John was a Salt Proprietor and his mother's name was Florence Margaret. Bruce had another sibling Thora aged 4 in 1911. They lived at 11 Mostyn Avenue, West Kirby in 1911. He played in the 1933, 135 and 1939 British Golf Championships.

Florence Melita Bell


Miss Bell with Lowry family in the summer of 1910 on holiday in the Isle of Man.

Born in Oxton, Wirral in 1875. The Lowry's nanny affectionately called "Bey" by the family. She was nanny to Lowry after he was born until 1912 when she left for a short period to be a steward on the R.M.S. Teutonic.

She sent a letter to Lowry on 27th July 1912 from 28 Magazine Lane, New Brighton where she may have been lodging or living with a relative. The letter was sent wishing Lowry "many happy returns of your birthday." The letter told how she didn't like the sea and that she missed the Lowry boys; "dear little baby with the brown face and blue eyes" who sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to her.

There are many references to the sea; "I wonder if you have started to be Admiral of the British Fleet yet.."; "the catain of my ship says you look like a sailor bold especially as you have blues eyes.". She tells of liking big boats, "Tynwalditis" - she had been sea sick on the ferry SS Tynwaldpassing the PS Empress Queen - an Isle of Man ferry in the River Mersey, seeing a lot of "flying fish", looking a the stars on board ship - they look just as if they had been hung up like lamps.."; plus she makes references to nature - flowers, her rose bush in the garden and swallows.

The letter is published in full in Gordon Bowker Malcolm Lowry Remembered Pgs. 15-16.

She was re-employed by the Lowry family after her replacement Miss Long was dismissed. We can presume Miss Bell moved on after Lowry began school at Braeside in 1914. Bowker states that she ran a village shop and post office in North Wales, after which all trace of her disappears. ( Malcolm Lowry Remembered Pg 15).




Carol Brown



Carol Brown and her family lived at Hilthorpe, Caldy about 400 metres from Lowry's childhood home Inglewood. Hilthorpe was built roughly the same time as Inglewood both being part of the development of Caldy in the early 20th Century by the Caldy Estates. Lowry met the Brown family in 1919 after they rescued him following an accident on his bike on Kings Drive, Caldy. (See Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 22.)

Lowry became friendly with the family including Carol’s 2 younger brothers Colin and Maurice playing at their house. Lowry would have reached her house via an ancient lane called Fleck Lane opposite Inglewood, which crossed Caldy Common.

Carol was 18, a year older than Lowry and attending Liverpool City School Of Art when he began writing to her. By that time he had become infatuated with her after going for a walk with her in April 1926. Lowry was still attending the Leys School in Cambridge and would have only seen Carol during school holidays.

Seventeen letters from Lowry to Carol Brown survive. These letters are amongst the earliest examples of Lowry’s writing revealing many of the qualities and interests that would be developed his maturity. Sherill Grace identifies that Lowry is “articulate and eloquent, but his darker side is visible in his incipient drinking, his vulnerability, and his intense concern with the self.” (Collected Letters Vol. 1 Pg. 7.)

Vår Frelsers gravlund, Oslo



Vår Frelsers gravlund is a cemetery in Oslo, Norway, located north of Hammersborg in Gamle Aker district. It was created in 1808 as a result of the great famine and cholera epidemic of the Napoleonic Wars. Its grounds were extended in 1911. The cemetery has been full since 1952. The cemetery is known primarily for Æreslunden, Norway's main honorary burial ground.


Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson (8 December 1832 – 26 April 1910) was a Norwegian writer and the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literaturelaureate. Bjørnson is considered as one of The Four Greats (De Fire Store) Norwegian writers; the others being Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, andAlexander Kielland. Bjørnson is celebrated for his lyrics to the Norwegian National Anthem, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet"

This cemetery maybe the inspiration for the one mentioned in Ultramarine by the protagonist Dana Hilliot when he describes where his family is buried; " Instead, let me show you the grave of my little uncles and aunts, all buried so neatly in a row, all my father's little brothers and sisters, all my mother's little brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. The gods hugged my forebears to death. Come take my hand; let us read: so Harald Wiers Hilliot, fodt 29 desember 1866, dod 2 mars 1867. Brigit Eva Hilliot, fodt 16 november 1867, dod 13 desember 1867. Edvard Nikolai Hilliot, fodt 8 april 1869, dod 6 mai 1870. Mary Sarah Hilliot, fodt 22 june 1874, dod 23 june 1874; without a country." (Ultramarine Pg. 68). "Without a country" is a reference to the death of Herman Bang on a train in Utah in self imposed exile from Denmark plus the phrase also refers to Bang's novel Denied A Country. Lowry later in Ultramarine refers again  to a cemetery in Oslo;  "I grant you, there is the business of my aunts, all knocked for a row of milk bottles in the cemetery in Oslo." (Pg. 96).


Another possible candidate for the cemetery is at  Old Aker Church (Norwegian: Gamle Aker kirke) - a medieval church located in Oslo. One of Lowry's favourite painters Edvard Munch depicted the church in at least 2 paintings which Lowry may have seen on his visit to Oslo in 1931.





Cirkus Verdensteater, Oslo



Circus World Theatre built in 1895 near Haakon VII's gate in Oslo on a site called the tivoli. It was one of two national circuses, the second being in Trondheim.

Until 1897, the building was owned by Danish businessman Bernard Jacobsen, who had acquired the land in 1887. The building was constructed of red brick and total cost 300,000 ore. The Circus had an inside diameter of 40 metres, a height of 32 metres, a floor area of ​​3,200 m² and seating for nearly 2,500 people with facilities for artists, horses and equipment.

Interior 1900

Circus was not a permanent one but was visited by other travelling circuses such as the Danish "Circus Schumann". The building was also used as a cinema as well as for music festivals and performances. It had its own orchestra and conductor, and had performances by artists such as Heinrich Botel, Thorvald Lammers / Mally Lammers and Ellen Gulbranson. After demolition in 1935 it was replaced on the site by the Klingenberg cinema in 1937.

Interior 1908

Lowry possibly refers to the circus in his novel Ultramarine when he describes the protagonist Dana Hilliot thinking back to his time in Oslo with his girlfriend Janet Travena (Pg. 68) and continues with; "Nevermore stand in the gallery at Revy Circus Globus. Do you remember? Vi nar program for alle og enhvers smak. Hand balances from a Springboart and Tumpling act! Morsomme Klovner! Akrobater! Balansekunstuere! Slangemennesker! Luftakrobater Obs! Populaere billetpriser: Galleri kr. 1." (Pg. 69). Lowry is possibly basing his description on a possible visit to the circus on his 1931 trip to Norway though there is no documentary evidence. The description seems to be based on a programme for the circus - a device Lowry used many times in his writing. Further evidence that this is the circus he refers to is that he visited the nearby  Røde Mølle restaurant and also refers to other places in the general area of the Tivoli/Stortingsgata area in both letters and Ultramarine.

The circus is marked on the 1917 map of Oslo (Christiania) below (click to enlarge):


Bygdøy, Oslo



Bygdøy or Bygdø is a peninsula on the western side of Oslo, Norway. Administratively, Bygdøy belongs to the borough of Frogner.

Bygdøy has several museums, like the Kon-Tiki Museum, which shows all year long the legendary expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl; the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum); the Viking Ship Museum; the Norwegian Maritime Museum and the ship Fram, used by Roald Amundsen. Bygdøy Royal Estate (Norwegian: Bygdøy Kongsgård, Bygdø Kongsgård), the official summer residence of the King of Norway and Oscarshall Castle are also located here.

Read more on Wikipedia

Click on map to enlarge to see Bygdøy peninsula and surrounding area:


Lowry recommended to his wife Jan Gabrial to visit the peninsula in a letter dated Summer 1933; " And I should visit Bygdø itself & see the Viking ship & drink wine & look out on the fjord. (Collected Letters Vol 1 Pg. 130).

Holmenkollbanen, Oslo



The Holmenkollen Line (Norwegian: Holmenkollbanen) is an 11.4-kilometre (7.1 mi) long line of the Oslo Metro between Majorstuen and Nordmarka in Oslo, Norway. It is served by Line 1 of the metro, and is the line with the least passengers and the only to still have level crossings and short station platforms. The line runs mostly through residential areas with single dwellings, but the upper parts of the line mainly serve the recreational area of Nordmarka. Holmenkollen Station is located close to Holmenkollen National Arena which hosts international Nordic skiing tournaments.


The line is the oldest of the metro, and was opened as a light rail in 1898 by the company Holmenkolbanen. Originally it ran 6.2 kilometers (3.9 mi) from Majorstuen Station to Besserud. In 1916, the line was extended to Tryvann, with the last 1.4 kilometers (0.87 mi) only being used for freight. In 1928, the city terminus was moved 2.0 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the underground Nationaltheatret Station.

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The line was extended in 1916 to Frognersaeteren which is how Lowry must have travelled to the resort on his 1931 trip to Norway. He later described to his wife Jan Gabrial in a letter dated Summer 1933 how to get there; "go down the Holmerkollen, from there, which is the Oslo underground, just turn to the left at the Nationaltheatret exit from Røde Mølle, that being an ugly looking theatre with Ibsen, Bjornsen & Heiberg outside it, & walk up the hill a bit, the entrance to the underground is on the middle of the square behind the Nationaltheatre - go down the right entrance, & when you see a tram come along with Frognarsaeteren on its forehead, take it, pay 90 ore I think it is, go all the way; it will take you up a mountain which is just the best thing in the world & there's a restaurant up there where they speak German for you." (Collected Letters Vol. 1 Pgs. 130-131).



Frognersaeteren, Norway



Originally this place was the seter (mountain dairy farm) of Frogner Manor.

Frognerseteren is the end station of the Holmenkollen Line of the Oslo Metro, located in the Marka section of Oslo. It is the station after Voksenkollen. The line to Frognerseteren was completed on 16 May 1916. The station has two platforms which, like other stations on the Holmenkollen Line, only accommodate two-car trains. The elevation of the station is 469 meters (1,539 ft) above sea level, the highest of all the stations in Oslo.


The area around Frognerseteren has very little population, but is popular for recreation, with a restaurant and hiking trails or, during the winter, skiing. Tryvannstårnet is also within walking distance although Voksenkollen station is slightly closer.


Lowry took the tram there in 1931, later describing it to Jan Gabrial in a letter dated Summer 1933; "& when you see a tram come along with Frognarsaeteren on its forehead, take it, pay 90 ore I think it is, go all the way; it will take you up a mountain which is just the best thing in the world & there's a restaurant up there where they speak German for you." (Collected Letters Vol. 1 Pgs. 130-131). Dana Hilliot recalls a boomerang he had there (Ultramarine Pg.18).



Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Chat Noir, Oslo

Chat Noir was established as a cabaret in 1912 in the Tivoli building by singer Bokken Lasson and her husband, writer Vilhelm Dybwad, modelled after the Paris cabaret Le Chat Noir from the 19th century.

During a visit to Paris in the early 1890s, Bokken Lasson had found the inspiration of her life. She experienced the literary cabarets of the time, and performers such as Yvette Guilbert. The next years she toured European cities, wearing a self-composed costume, singing gypsy songs and playing lute, performing on the street, at restaurants, cabarets and occasionally in musical comedies. Bokken Lasson managed the cabaret from 1912 to 1917.

Chat Noir became a cultural meeting place, with the artists Christian and Oda Krohg (Bokken's sister) as leading figures. Their son Per Krohg painted the first decorations. To begin with Chat Noir was a literary cabaret. Herman Wildenvey and Arnulf Øverland contributed with poetry, Vilhelm Dybwad composed melodies, and Bokken Lasson was singing. In 1913 the first revue, called 1913, was played at Chat Noir. In 1916 Lalla Christensen was introduced, singing children's songs.




Victor Bernau led the theatre from 1920 to 1928, and during this period Chat Noir won its reputation as a modern revue theatre. Johan Henrik Wiers-Jenssen took over as manager from 1926, with Bernau as artistical director during the early years.

Lowry refers to the cabaret in his novel Ultramarine; "the Nationaltheatret or the Circus or the Chat Noir?" (Pg. 68). There is no record of Lowry visiting the Chat Noir.