Lawrence Durrell, the British novelist whose works evoked the exotic imagery of the Mediterranean, died at his home in southern France, his family said Thursday. He was 78.

The cause of death was not disclosed. Durrell had been weak for about two weeks, a family member said.Durrell, who was a close friend of American novelist Henry Miller, died in Sommieres, a small town in the Provence region near the Mediterranean coast where he had lived for 24 years.

His best-known work was the Alexandria Quartet series, the elements of which came from the time he spent in Alexandria, Egypt, during World War II. The novels, written from 1957-60, were "Justine," "Balthazar," "Mountolive" and "Clea."