Scope and arrangement
The papers consist of incoming and outgoing personal correspondence, journals and notebooks, manuscripts, personal documents and photographic negatives. The bulk of materials are limited to the years Gabrial met and married Malcolm Lowry, from 1933 to 1940, although a small portion relate to the year prior to meeting Lowry and a year or so after leaving him. Half of the collection consists of a series on Malcolm Lowry that contains a small amount of his personal correspondence, note fragments, and two copies of his manuscript, "In Ballast to the White Sea," edited by Jan Gabrial.
Gabrial's journal narrates her early impressions of an extended tour of Europe beginning in 1932. Letters to her mother, Emily F. Vanderheim, are a rich source of insight into Gabrial's experience as a young, impressionable woman, who aspires to be a writer, and who eventually encounters her future husband, a serious writer himself, in Granada, Spain, in 1933. Gabrial faithfully keeps her mother informed about events in her life and is surprisingly candid about the state of her marriage. The papers include a few letters from Gabrial to her husband, Malcolm, during the months in 1934 when she returned to the U.S. and he remained in Paris. Incoming letters from friends and several landladies provide additional background in the character of her life during her years with Malcolm Lowry. Two notebooks and a few manuscripts illustrate Gabrial's activity as she pursued her own career in writing. Personal documents include her marriage certificate, final divorce decree, and photographic negatives. The negatives are unidentified, but presumably date from her European tour, 1932-1934.
The series entitled, "Malcolm Lowry," contains a small collection of Malcolm Lowry's correspondence and writing that were in Jan Gabrial's possession when she died in 2001. Somewhat disjointed, the correspondence includes mostly incoming letters, but there are a few letters written by Lowry. The incoming correspondence contains five letters from Arthur O. Lowry, Malcolm's father, one letter from his mother, two postcards from Malcolm's mentor, Conrad Aiken, three letters from his close friend, John Davenport, in England, and a few from two other British friends, Bill Bower and John Summerfield. The letters from Malcolm's father were written between May 1934 and August 1936. Without an income of his own, Malcolm received monthly installments of funds from his father in England, and was very much dependent upon him. The letters from Arthur Lowry express deep concern about Malcolm's lifestyle and address Malcolm's requests for additional money. The letters from friends contain casual references to mutual friends, contemporary writers and personal experiences. A small file of letters written by Malcolm Lowry contain two unmailed letters, one addressed to novelist Julien Green and the other to Nordahl Grieg, the Norwegian writer. Both letters are almost identical to letters contained in his manuscript of "In Ballast to the White Sea." The other letters in this file are photocopies of a few letters written by Malcolm to Jan and several to Margerie Bonner Lowry, his second wife.
Two copies of "In Ballast to the White Sea," by Malcolm Lowry, were in Jan Gabrial's possession and are contained in the final two boxes of this collection. Lowry worked on the manuscript of this novel over a period of ten years, repeatedly rewriting it from 1934 until 1944. The last iteration of it was lost in a fire at the author's home in Vancouver, B.C., in 1944. The copies contained here were edited by Jan Gabrial and consist of a typescript with editorial changes and a final copy of clean typescript. An introduction to "In Ballast to the White Sea," by Jan Gabriel, is included in this collection in Box 2.
The Jan Gabrial papers are arranged in four series: