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Series 2 - 4. Ever Decreasing Literary Circles
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Mrs Lowry and Son

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 11 May 2012

Mrs Lowry and Son
Written by Martyn Hesford

Artist L. S. Lowry lived all his life with his over-bearing mother Elizabeth. Bed-ridden and bitter, Elizabeth actively tried to dissuade her bachelor son from pursuing his artistic ambitions, whilst never failing to voice her opinion at what a disappointment he is to her. This powerful drama imagines the impact this obsessive mother and son relationship had on the great artist.

Directed by Gary Brown
Produced by Charlotte Riches.

  • Mrs Lowry and Son

    L.S. Lowry was in his early fifties when his singular vision of industrial life in the north of England met with critical and commercial success. For the artist himself, true success was rooted closer to home in the opinions of his mother Elizabeth Lowry; a formidable woman whose life was blighted by disappointment, and whose disapproval of her son irrevocably shaped his future.

    Having dreamt of becoming a concert pianist, marriage and pregnancy led Elizabeth to the sedentary existence of private piano tutor and socially-aspiring housewife. When Lowry was born in 1887 she was horrified to discover it was a boy instead of the girl she had hoped to raise in her image. As her clumsy son reached maturity, he demonstrated a talent for drawing that Elizabeth dismissed as a hobby. When Lowry left school, he followed his father Robert into the property business.

    Middle class stability ultimately eluded the family when Robert's firm overlooked him for promotion. Unable to afford the genteel Manchester suburb of Victoria Park, the Lowrys reluctantly moved to less auspicious accomodation in industrial Salford. It was here that Lowry, attending evening classes at art school, developed a fascination with the mills and factories he immortalised in his work. Elizabeth, bemused by the grimy subject matter, viewed it as evidence of her son's ineptitude. 'It's bad enough we have to live amongst it,' she remonstrated, 'without you bringing it into the house'.

    Robert died in 1932 leaving substantial debts. Unmarried and approaching middle-age, Lowry collected rent during the day, nursed his now bed-bound mother in the evening and painted into the early hours of the morning - accompanied by gramophone records of the classical music he and Elizabeth shared a passion for. Beset by domestic claustrophobia, and with national recognition for his work looming, all that remained for Lowry was the challenge of convincing his sternest critic that he was not a failure as an artist or as a son.

    - Richard English, Lowry Galleries Interpreter

  • The Lowry

    The Lowry Gallery - Salford Quays


Martyn Hesford
LS Lowry
Reece Dinsdale
Elizabeth Lowry
Lynda Baron
Gary Brown
Charlotte Riches


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