‘Charmed Lives in Greece’ — The Books…

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Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor at The British Museum

On our recent trip to London, after collecting our trove of Joseph Conrad books, we took the opportunity to visit a small, but fantastic exhibit at the British Museum — Charmed Lives in Greece: Ghika, Craxton, Leigh Fermor. The free show, only a few steps inside the entrance on your left, runs until July 15th, 2018. We cannot recommend it highly enough for fans of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor (PLF), especially if you recently read the excellent, extensive collection of his letters — Patrick Leigh Fermor: A Life in Letters, published in 2017 by Penguin Random House and edited by Adam Sisman.

Entrance to the Exhibit at the British Museum

Sir Patrick “Paddy” Leigh Fermor (1915–2011) lived quite a life — an inspiration for James Bond and Dos Equis ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’. As an 18-year-old Fermor decided to walk the length of Europe, a journey that ended six years later far away (Romania) from his home at the onset of WWII. Immediately enlisting in the British Army upon his return to England, WWII saw Fermor serving in Greece and Crete as a special operations officer. His most famous operation involved conducting a nighttime raid behind enemy lines in Crete and was turned into the 1957 movie ILL Met by Moonlight.

Poster for ‘ILL Met by Moonlight’

After the war’s end Fermor’s urge to travel did not dim and in 1950 he published his first travel book, The Traveller’s Tree, about his post-war adventures in the Caribbean. This book went on to win a prize and launched his career as a writer — today he is known as one of the foremost British travel writers of the 20th century.

There is no end to the interesting stories about his life so we recommend Sisman’s collection of PLF’s letters as an excellent resource. Fermor’s post-war life took him from country estates around England, throughout Western Europe and beyond — he continued to return to Greece and its islands as you might have guessed from the name of the exhibition. The two artists featured with PLF in the exhibit, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas (1906–1994) and John Craxton (1992–2009), were his close friends.

Now that we got our history lesson in — on to the eye candy. On display in the exhibit are several original book covers with inscriptions by PLF that will stop you in your tracks! Feast your eyes below and be sure to visit the exhibit you are in London — it doesn’t hurt that all of the wonderful bookstores in Bloomsbury are a stone's throw away!

Original cover art by John Craxton for Patrick Leigh Fermor’s ‘A Time of Gifts’ and ‘Mani: Travels to the Southern Peloponnese’
Original cover art for Patrick Leigh Fermor’s ‘Roumeli’

For additional information on PLF here are a few suggestions:

For suggestions on bookstores to visit in the area, see Jarndyce’s helpful list of Bloomsbury Booksellers — and be sure to visit Jarndyce, it’s one of our favorites!


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