I want to go where it’s WARM: From The Durrells in Corfu to Spirit of Place — Lawrence Durrell’s Greece.


The missus has been watching a series on public television.

The Durrells (also known as The Durrells in Corfu on American television) is a British comedy-drama series based on Gerald Durrell’s three autobiographical books about his family’s four years (1935–1939) on the Greek Island of Corfu, which began airing on 3 April 2016.

The series begins in 1935, when Louisa Durrell suddenly announces that she and her four children will move from Bournemouth to the Greek island of Corfu. Her husband has died some years earlier and the family is experiencing financial problems. A Homeric battle ensues as the family adapts to life on the island which, despite a lack of electricity, proves that Corfu is cheap and an earthly paradise.

A degree of artistic licence is employed: in the TV series, the family move to Corfu together, whereas in real life Lawrence Durrell, the eldest child (23 years of age in 1935), had already moved to the island earlier the same year with his wife.

At some point during the period of her viewing, I wandered into the room and was stunned by the scenery. Location shooting for the series takes place on the island of Corfu, where I haven’t set foot — although I’ve had glimpses of it by boat and from Albania, across the straits.

As is my habit, catching up meant finding a documentary (above) rather than binge-watching the series.

Spirit of Place Lawrence Durrell’s Greece (1976)

Wonderful BBC Arts documentary from 1976 taking Lawrence Durrell back to Greece.

Both Lawrence and Gerald Durrell became noted writers …

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 … and there are those who say the family’s idyllic life on Corfu wasn’t exactly as either of them depicted.

In My Family And Other Animals, the author Gerald Durrell gives the impression that his family went to Corfu in 1935 almost on a whim, selling their English house and sailing into the unknown to escape rainy summer days and stuffed-up noses. They laughed and wrote beautifully of their island idyll, but nobody in the family talked about what had really brought them to the island – the sudden death of their father in India, the devastating effect it had on their mother, and the yearning to restore something lost.

Gerald’s career isn’t as familiar to me, but I’ve been hearing Lawrence’s name ever since I first resolved to travel.

The Real Life Lawrence Durrell

Lawrence “Larry”, the eldest of the Durrell siblings, is portrayed in MASTERPIECE’S The Durrell’s in Corfu, as a struggling writer, his every mood dictated, often hilariously so, by the associated highs and lows of his chosen trade. Self-important and more than a little pompous, he has an affinity for Bohemianism, as well as a budding friendship with Henry Miller.

The connection obviously is Miller, as the two became good friends.

One realizes immediately that theirs is much more than a literary friendship when watching the easiness with which the two men treat each other. There is the familiarity of shared assumptions and experiences. But still, Miller and Durrell are as distinct from each other as their writing. Miller’s talk is unadorned, always quizzical and avoiding the subject of literature. His face is made more austere by the skullcap he wears at his writing desk; his age evident only in the way his tallness is equivocated by a stoop at the shoulders. Durrell seems all torso — and one’s first impression of him is a flow of bright, brittle language, an English accent laced with French words for emphasis.

All that’s left for me now is to read one of Larry Durrell’s books.