Clarence Malcolm Lowry was born on July 28, 1909 in Cheshire, England. He attended Braeside School, Caldicote School and the Leys School, Cambridge before sailing to the Far East as a deckhand in the summer of 1927. Upon his return in 1929, Lowry settled down to his education, first studying with poet and novelist Conrad Aiken for several months and then entering St. Catherine's College, Cambridge University, England. He graduated in 1932 with a B.A. in English and published his first novel, "Ultramarine," in 1933. In 1934, he married Jan Gabrail in Paris, but was tormented by emotional problems. After spending some time in the psychiatric wing of Bellevue Hospital in New York, he began work on his next book, "Lunar Caustic" in 1935. The next year, he and his wife moved to Mexico where he began writing "Under the Volcano." Over the next 10 years, work on the book continued, despite personal crises that included a divorce and remarriage, moves from Mexico to Los Angeles to Vancouver, and the destruction of his home by fire. "Under the Volcano" was finally published in New York on February 19, 1947 and in London on September 1, 1947. The book has since become a classic, but unfortunately its themes of alcoholism and failure were all too genuine a part of Lowry's life. While he continued to write and to travel, the remainder of his life was plagued by the severe emotional problems brought about by his excessive drinking. Malcolm Lowry died on June 27, 1957 in the English village of Ripe, Sussex.
Journalist and novelist William T. Vollmann was born in 1959 and educated at Cornell University. He worked as a comptuer programmer before becoming a journalist and covering Bosnia, Sarajevo and Afghanistan. He has written extensively since 1987, when his first book, You Bright and Risen Angels, was published. The Atlas (1996) won the PEN Center USA West Award for the best novel by a writer living west of the Mississippi. His newest work of Non-Fiction is entitled, Imperial.
The youngest of the group that included W. H. Auden, C. Day Lewis, and Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender was born in London and educated at Oxford University. He produced his most memorable verse in the 1930s, when his leftist orientation led him briefly to join the Communist party. Coeditor of Horizon magazine before World War II, he served in the National Fire Service during the war. He worked as an editor of Encounter magazine from 1953 to 1967, resigning after the revelation that the magazine had relied on funding from the American CIA. Since World War II, Spender has produced more prose than poetry, including the fine autobiography World within World (1951) and the valuable literary analysis The Struggle of the Modern (1963). After his first visit to the United States in 1947 to see his old friend Auden, Spender began to spend half the year in Britain and the other half abroad, often in the United States on visiting appointments at universities. In 1970 he was appointed professor of English literature at the University of London. Spender's poetry lacks both the wit and quietly authoritative tone of Auden's. Instead, he takes a more questioning, self-divided stance, in which his modern diction and subjects often serve a romantic preoccupation with the self. Spender's prose shows him the most proromantic of his circle. Even in the socially engaged verse of the 1930s, Spender often dramatized individual yearnings or projected them onto only apparently objective social circumstances. He has found his true themes in relationships, whether of individuals or of groups. A gifted critic, his recent work has included studies of T. S. Eliot, the 1930s poets, and the sculpt or Henry Moore. In 1962, he was made a CBE (Commander, Order of the British Empire).