Early life and education
Durrell was born in Jamshedpur, India on 7 January 1925. He was the fifth and final child (an elder sister died in infancy) of Louisa Florence Dixie and Lawrence Samuel Durrell, both of whom were born in India of English and Irish descent. Durrell's father was a British engineer and, as was commonplace and befitting the family status, the infant Durrell spent most of his time in the company of an ayah (nursemaid). Durrell reportedly recalled his first visit to a zoo in India and attributed his lifelong love of animals to that encounter. He studied in St Josephs School North Point Darjeeling.
The family moved to Britain shortly before the death of his father in 1928 and settled in the Upper Norwood, Crystal Palace area of South London. Durrell was enrolled in Wickwood School, but frequently stayed at home feigning illness.