Laurence Stephen Lowry was born in Rusholme, Manchester in November 1887, the only child of Irish-born R S Lowry and Elizabeth Lowry. He attended a local school in Victoria Park, but took private lessons from William Fitz, before starting work as a clerk for a firm of chartered accountants in 1904.
From 1905-1915 he attended drawing and painting classes at the Municipal College of Art (later Manchester College of Art, and now part of Manchester Metropolitan University), where he was tutored by Adolphe Valette. He moved to Pendlebury in Salford with his parents in 1909, where he was to live for nearly 40 years.
During this time he attended art classes at Salford School of Art, developing an interest in the urban and industrial landscape. He exhibited with the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts from 1919, as well as entering paintings in the Paris Salon. By the early 1930s he was exhibiting at the Royal Academy in London.
He was awarded an honorary MA at Manchester University in 1945, and Doctor of Letters in 1961, elected to the Royal Academy in 1962, and given freedom of the City of Salford in 1965 – many other honours followed later.
He lived in Mottram until he died in 1976.