He had few friends at school and passed no exams, but it was decided that he should enrol at Manchester School of Art which he did in 1905, for evening classes. He joined Salford School of Art for evening classes in 1915, which is where his work on the matchstick figures developed.
He had his first job in 1904 where he 'drifted into' office work as a clerk with a Manchester accountant. In 1910 Lowry took a job with a property company in Manchester as a rent collector, and stayed with them for the next 42 years. He spent much of his working life walking the poorest streets of Manchester and its surrounding area, and this is where his vision formed.
Lowry first exhibited in 1919 at Manchester Art Gallery. By 1945 Lowry had had 3 exhibitions and was starting to establish himself. By the 1950s the Royal Academy had invited him to join and his fame and success were assured.
Lowry painted a few pictures of London, including one of Piccadilly Circus, with his trademark 'matchstick people' wearing bowler hats and London fashions (sold recently for £200,000).
He moved to Mottram-in-Longdendale, Cheshire, in 1948 where he lived until he died in 1976.
During his life Lowry had painted and drawn some 2000-3000 pieces.