Author Paul Theroux Reports on Lowell Visit for Barron’s Online

Acclaimed author Paul Theroux visited Lowell a few months ago on assignment from Barron’s online journal. The Medford native rode the train to Lowell, retracing his mother’s route to college in the late 1920s. She earned a teaching degree from Lowell Normal School. Theroux spent a day in Lowell, hosted by Deb Belanger of the Greater Merrimack Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau. The author of many notable travel books and other volumes was much impressed by the transformed textile-factory city. Read his descriptions and observations in a lengthy article released on May 18. 

It’s a city of reversals and, for that reason, a remarkable place of proud and engaged citizens–and quintessentially American. That certainly was the message of the most recent movie to be made in Lowell, Mark Wahlberg’s The Fighter (2010), about a Lowell boxer, “Irish” Micky Ward, battling his way back from the brink. Lowell has known the heights of fortune and the depths of economic depression. The mills were still spinning–three shifts in the Boott Mill, 24 hours a day, in 1928—when my mother was taking the one-mile walk from the station to Lowell Normal School, now the vastly expanded UMass-Lowell. Many mills were even spinning when Kerouac was a boy, as he recalls inThe Town and the City and Maggie Cassidy. But soon some transitioned to patent medicine, or munitions, or printing. Kerouac’s father, Alcide, ran a print shop here.

Paul Theroux (web photo by Jason Grow courtesy of

One Response to Author Paul Theroux Reports on Lowell Visit for Barron’s Online

  1. DickH says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Theroux during his visit to Lowell and was impressed by his connections to the city through the experience of both his mother and his father. After our meeting, I bought two of Mr. Theroux’s books: “The Great Railway Bazaar” and “The Old Patagonian Express.” Both are about train trips. In the first, Theroux took a round trip from London to Siberia in a giant loop that took him through Southwest Asia and back across the length of the Soviet Union. The second book began at his home in Medford and then via subway and many trains traveled from there to the southernmost tip of South America. For anyone interested in train travel, these are great stories.