IN 1927, the mighty Empirical city of Liverpool had 43 foreign consulates, including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Germany, Nicaragua, Norway and the United States. 

Today we still have Norway. Just one of three that remain.

1927 was also the year that New Brighton-born Malcolm Lowry took to the sea, embarking from the Mersey on his first voyage - an 18-year-old deck hand bound for China. It was a kind of gap year before Cambridge.

Lowry was famous for the 1947 novel, Under the Volcano, regarded as a classic of modernist literature.  It’s the tale of a drunken British consul in Mexico on the eve of the Second World War, roaming the streets of a fictional Cuernavaca during the Day of the Dead,

It reflected Lowry’s own set up. Born into a world of privilege, his was a life driven and riven by alcohol - as was his death in 1957.

Malcolm Lowry: Liked a drink

But the Bluecoat keeps the faith and every October stages a celebration around the author and poet called The Lowry Lounge.

This year's twist takes consular matters to heart - thus those lost consulates of Liverpool form the backdrop to the 2016 Lowry Lounge taking place this weekend in and around the city centre and the School Lane venue.

Expect a guided tour of Liverpool city centre, a book launch, talks, readings and a film.

Novelist Anthony Burgess described Under The Volcano as “a Faustian masterpiece”, it is listed as the 11th greatest novel in the Modern Library’s Top 100  the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez found it a constant source of inspiration.

New Brighton-based Lowry expert, Colin Dilnot, will start the Lounge by leading a walking tour of these los’ consulates, stopping at each site to reveal their relevance to Lowry and to read short extracts from his work.

Among the most visible to this day is the US Consulate on Paradise Street - now home to Cote Bistro - its golden eagle in the same pose as ever - ready to swoop for prey on people and pesky pigeons below.

The day continues at Bluecoat with talks and readings on a consular theme from Liverpool-based poets Helen Tookey and Robert Sheppard, and Mark Goodall from University of Bradford.

Canadian publisher Ottawa University Press has an ongoing series of Lowry-related books and Bluecoat will host the European launch of its new volume of essays, Malcolm Lowry’s Poetics of Space, including readings from two of the book’s authors, Mark Goodall and locally-based short story writer Ailsa Cox.

The Lounge finishes with a toast to Lowry and screening of one of his favourite films, Mad Love (1935) - the American horror adaptation of Maurice Renard's story The Hands of Orlac - directed by Karl Freund and starring Peter Lorre.


*Lowry Lounge, Bluecoat Arts Centre, School Lane, L1. Saturday, October 23.
10.30am-12.30pm: A walking tour of the ‘lost’ consulates of Liverpool.
1.30-2.30pm: Readings by Helen Tookey and Robert Sheppard; Ralph Rumney: The Consul, followed by a talk by Mark Goodall on this British member of the Situationist International, known as ‘The Consul’
2.30-3.45pm: Book launch, Malcolm Lowry’s Poetics of Space
3.45pm: Lowry toast and announcement of Bluecoat’s 2017 Lowry plans
4.15-6pm: Film screening - Mad Love (The Hands of Orlac) Tickets: Whole day £8 Walk only (limited number) £5