Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor, DSO, OBE (11 February 1915 – 10 June 2011), also known as Paddy Fermor, was a British author, scholar, soldier and polyglot who played a prominent role behind the lines in the Cretan resistance during the Second World War. He was widely regarded as Britain's greatest living travel writer during his lifetime, based on books such as A Time of Gifts (1977). A BBC journalist once described him as "a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene." The Patrick Leigh Fermor Society was formed in 2014.
Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor
Leigh Fermor in 1966
|Born||Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor|
11 February 1915
|Died||10 June 2011 (aged 96)|
|Occupation||Author, scholar and soldier|
|Notable works||A Time of Gifts, Abducting a General|
|Notable awards||Knight Bachelor; Distinguished Service Order; Officer of the Order of the British Empire|
|Spouse||Joan Leigh Fermor, née Hon. Joan Eyres-Monsell|
|Years of service||1940–1946|
|Battles/wars||Second World War|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Order|
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Fermor was born in London, the son of Sir Lewis Leigh Fermor, a distinguished geologist, and Muriel Aeyleen, daughter of Charles Taafe Ambler. Shortly after his birth, his mother and sister left to join his father in India, leaving the infant Patrick in England with a family in Northamptonshire: first in the village of Weedon, and later in nearby Dodford. He did not meet his parents or his sister again until he was four years old. As a child Leigh Fermor had problems with academic structure and limitations, and was sent to a school for "difficult" children. He was later expelled from The King's School, Canterbury after he was caught holding hands with a greengrocer's daughter.
His last report from The King's School noted that the young Leigh Fermor was "a dangerous mixture of sophistication and recklessness". He continued learning by reading texts on Greek, Latin, Shakespeare and History, with the intention of entering the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Gradually he changed his mind, deciding to become an author instead, and in the summer of 1933 relocated to Shepherd Market in London, living with a few friends. Soon, faced with the challenges of an author's life in London and rapidly draining finances, he set upon leaving for Europe.
At the age of 18 Leigh Fermor decided to walk the length of Europe, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople (Istanbul). He set off on 8 December 1933 with a few clothes, several letters of introduction, the Oxford Book of English Verse and a Loeb volume of Horace's Odes. He slept in barns and shepherds' huts, but also was invited by landed gentry and aristocracy into the country houses of Central Europe. He experienced hospitality in many monasteries along the way. Two of his later travel books, A Time of Gifts (1977) and Between the Woods and the Water (1986), were about this journey. A book on the final part of his journey was unfinished at the time of Leigh Fermor's death, but was published as The Broken Road: Travels from Bulgaria to Mount Athos in September 2013 by John Murray. The book draws on Leigh Fermor's diary at the time and on an early draft he wrote in the 1960s.
Leigh Fermor arrived in Istanbul on 1 January 1935, then continued to travel around Greece. In March he was involved in the campaign of royalist forces in Macedonia against an attempted Republican revolt. In Athens he met Balasha Cantacuzène (Bălaşa Cantacuzino), a Romanian Phanariote noblewoman, with whom he fell in love. They shared an old watermill outside the city looking out towards Poros, where she painted and he wrote. They moved on to Băleni, Galați, the Cantacuzène house in Moldavia, Romania, where he remained until the autumn of 1939. On learning that Britain had declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 Leigh Fermor immediately left Romania to return home and enlist in the army.
As an officer cadet, Leigh Fermor trained alongside Derek Bond and Iain Moncreiffe, and later joined the Irish Guards. Due to his knowledge of modern Greek, he was commissioned in the General List in August 1940 and became a liaison officer in Albania. He fought in Crete and mainland Greece. During the German occupation, he returned to Crete three times, once by parachute. He was one of a small number of Special Operations Executive (SOE) officers posted to organise the island's resistance to the occupation. Disguised as a shepherd and nicknamed Michalis or Filedem, he lived for over two years in the mountains. With Captain Bill Stanley Moss as his second in command, Leigh Fermor led the party that in 1944 captured and evacuated the German commander, General Heinrich Kreipe. There is a memorial commemorating Kreipe's abduction near Archanes in Crete.
Moss featured the events of the Cretan capture in his book Ill Met by Moonlight. (The 2014 edition contains an Afterword written by Leigh Fermor in 2001, setting the context of the operation.) It was later adapted in a film by the same name. It was directed/produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and released in 1957. In the film, Leigh Fermor was portrayed by Dirk Bogarde. Leigh Fermor's own account Abducting A General – The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete was published in October 2014.
The National Archives in London holds copies of Leigh Fermor's wartime dispatches from occupied Crete in file number HS 5/728.
In 1950 Leigh Fermor published his first book, The Traveller's Tree, about his post-war travels in the Caribbean. The book won the Heinemann Foundation Prize for Literature and established his career. The reviewer in The Times Literary Supplement wrote: "Mr Leigh Fermor never loses sight of the fact, not always grasped by superficial visitors, that most of the problems of the West Indies are the direct legacy of the slave trade." It was quoted extensively in Live and Let Die, by Ian Fleming. He went on to write several further books of his journeys, including Mani and Roumeli, of his travels on mule and foot around remote parts of Greece.
Leigh Fermor translated the manuscript The Cretan Runner written by George Psychoundakis, a dispatch runner on Crete during the war, and helped Psychoundakis get his work published. Leigh Fermor also wrote a novel, The Violins of Saint-Jacques, which was adapted as an opera by Malcolm Williamson. His friend Lawrence Durrell recounts in his book Bitter Lemons (1957) how, during the Cypriot insurgency against continued British rule in 1955, Leigh Fermor visited Durrell's villa in Bellapais, Cyprus:
After a splendid dinner by the fire he starts singing, songs of Crete, Athens, Macedonia. When I go out to refill the ouzo bottle...I find the street completely filled with people listening in utter silence and darkness. Everyone seems struck dumb. 'What is it?' I say, catching sight of Frangos. 'Never have I heard of Englishmen singing Greek songs like this!' Their reverent amazement is touching; it is as if they want to embrace Paddy wherever he goes.
After living with her for many years Leigh Fermor was married in 1968 to the Honourable Joan Elizabeth Rayner (née Eyres Monsell), daughter of Bolton Eyres-Monsell, 1st Viscount Monsell. She accompanied him on many of his travels until her death in Kardamyli in June 2003, aged 91. They had no children. They lived part of the year in their house in an olive grove near Kardamyli in the Mani Peninsula, southern Peloponnese, and part of the year in Gloucestershire.
Leigh Fermor was knighted in the 2004 New Years Honours. In 2007, he said that, for the first time, he had decided to work using a typewriter, having written all his books longhand until then. The house at Kardamyli was featured in the 2013 film Before Midnight.
He opened his home in Kardamyli to the local villagers on his name day. New Zealand writer Maggie Rainey-Smith (who was staying in the area while researching for her next book) joined in with his name day celebration in November 2007, and, after his death, posted some of the photographs taken that day.
Leigh Fermor was noted for his strong physical constitution, even though he smoked 80 to 100 cigarettes a day. Although in his last years he suffered from tunnel vision and wore hearing aids, he remained physically fit up to his death and dined at table on the last evening of his life.
For the last few months of his life Leigh Fermor suffered from a cancerous tumour, and in early June 2011 he underwent a tracheotomy in Greece. As death was close, according to local Greek friends, he expressed a wish to visit England to say good-bye to his friends, and then return to die in Kardamyli, though it is also stated that he actually wished to die in England and be buried next to his wife.
Leigh Fermor died in England, aged 96, on 10 June 2011, the day after his return. His funeral took place at St Peter's Church, Dumbleton, Gloucestershire, on 16 June 2011. A Guard of Honour was provided by serving and former members of the Intelligence Corps, and a bugler from the Irish Guards sounded the Last Post and reveille. Leigh Fermor is buried next to his wife in the churchyard at Dumbleton. The Greek inscription is a quotation from Cavafy that can be translated as "In addition, he was that best of all things, Hellenic".
It was December 1933, and an 18-year-old Englishman named Patrick Leigh Fermor put on a pair of hobnail boots and a secondhand greatcoat, gathered up his rucksack and left London on a ship bound for Rotterdam, where he planned to travel 1,400 miles to Istanbul—on foot.
A Time of Gifts (1977) is a travel book by British author Patrick Leigh Fermor. Published by John Murray when the author was 62, it is a memoir of the first part of Fermor's journey on foot across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933/34. The book has been hailed as a classic of travel writing; William Dalrymple called it a "sublime masterpiece".A Time of Gifts, whose introduction is a letter to his wartime colleague Xan Fielding, recounts Leigh Fermor's journey as far as the Middle Danube. A second volume, Between the Woods and the Water (1986), begins with the author crossing the Mária Valéria bridge from Czechoslovakia into Hungary and ends when he reaches the Iron Gate, where the Danube formed the boundary between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Romania. A planned third volume of Leigh Fermor's journey to its completion in Constantinople was never completed. In 2011 Leigh Fermor's publisher John Murray announced that it would publish the final volume, drawing from his diary at the time and an early draft that he wrote in the 1960s; The Broken Road, edited by Artemis Cooper, was published in September 2013.A Time to Keep Silence
A Time to Keep Silence (1953) is a travel book by British author Patrick Leigh Fermor. It describes Fermor's sojourns in monasteries across Europe, and is praised by William Dalrymple as a "sublime masterpiece".This was an early publication from the Queen Anne Press, a small private press, created in 1951 by Lord Kemsley, proprietor of the Sunday Times. In 1952 Kemsley made Leigh Fermor's friend Ian Fleming its managing director. The press concentrated on producing finely printed and bound editions, often with small limitations. A Time to Keep Silence was printed in a limited edition of 500 copies with illustrations by John Craxton.
After revision, an open edition was published by John Murray in 1957.
The monasteries discussed include the Abbey of St. Wandrille, Solesmes Abbey and La Grande Trappe.
The title is from the Book of Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 3:7).Artemis Cooper
Artemis Cooper, the Hon. Lady Beevor FRSL (born 22 April 1953) is a British writer, primarily of biographies.Ben Downing (writer)
Ben Downing (born April 17, 1967) is an American writer, editor, and teacher. Specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British social life and literature (with a particular emphasis on travel writing), he has written essays, articles, and reviews on figures such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Duff Cooper, Robert Byron, Anthony Powell, Peter Fleming, Wilfred Thesiger, and Patrick Leigh Fermor. His biography of Janet Ross, who for many years was the doyenne of Florence’s Anglo-American colony, was published in 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Downing also writes poetry. His collection The Calligraphy Shop appeared in 2003, and he continues to publish poems in The Atlantic, The New Criterion, The Yale Review, and elsewhere.
Since 1993 Downing has worked at Parnassus: Poetry in Review, of which he is currently the co-editor. He has taught literary seminars and workshops at Columbia, Bryn Mawr, and the 92nd St. Y, and he currently teaches a small private class, known as The English Salon, for advanced non-native speakers of English. He lives in New York City and graduated from Harvard University.Between the Woods and the Water
Between the Woods and the Water is a travel book by British author Patrick Leigh Fermor, the second in a series of three books narrating the author's journey on foot across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933/34.
The first book in the series, A Time of Gifts, recounts Leigh Fermor's journey as far as the Middle Danube. Between the Woods and the Water (1986) begins with the author crossing the Mária Valéria bridge from Czechoslovakia into Hungary and ends when he reaches the Iron Gate, where the Danube formed the boundary between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Romania. The planned third volume of Leigh Fermor's journey to its completion in Constantinople, The Broken Road, was not completed in his lifetime, but was finally published in September 2013.Many years after his travel, Leigh Fermor's diary of the Danubian leg of his journey was found in a castle in Romania and returned to him. He used it in his writing of the book, which also drew on the knowledge he had accumulated in the intervening years.Cretan resistance
The Cretan resistance (Greek: Κρητική Αντίσταση) was a resistance movement against the occupying forces of Nazi Germany and Italy by the residents of the Greek island of Crete during World War II. Part of the larger Greek Resistance, it lasted from 20 May 1941, when the German Wehrmacht invaded the island in the Battle of Crete, until the spring of 1945 when they surrendered to the British. For the first time during World War II, attacking German forces faced in Crete a substantial resistance from the local population. Cretan civilians picked off paratroopers or attacked them with knives, axes, scythes or even bare hands. As a result, many casualties were inflicted upon the invading German paratroopers during the battle.Fermor
Fermor is a surname, a variant of Farmer. Notable people with the surname include:
Henrietta Louisa Fermor (1698–1761), English letter writer
Sir Lewis Leigh Fermor (1880–1954), British geologist and father of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor
Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915–2011), British author, scholar and soldier
Thomas Fermor (by 1523–1580), English politician
Thomas Fermor, 4th Earl of Pomfret (1770-1833), British army officer
William Fermor (1702-1771), Russian army officer, commander at ZorndorfIll Met by Moonlight
Ill Met by Moonlight: The Abduction of General Kreipe is a non-fiction partly-autobiographical book written by W. Stanley Moss, a British soldier, writer and traveller. It describes an operation in Crete during the Second World War to capture German general Heinrich Kreipe. Moss kept a diary during the war years and based his book on it. The 2014 edition includes an introduction by one of Moss's children and an afterword by Patrick Leigh Fermor.
The story was made into a 1957 film with the same title starring Dirk Bogarde by the British writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.Ill Met by Moonlight (film)
Ill Met by Moonlight (1957), also known as Night Ambush, is a film by the British writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and the last movie they made together through their production company, "The Archers". The film, which stars Dirk Bogarde and features Marius Goring, David Oxley, and Cyril Cusack, is based on the 1950 book Ill Met by Moonlight: The Abduction of General Kreipe by W. Stanley Moss, which is an account of events during the author's service on Crete during World War II as an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The title is a quotation from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the book features the young agents' capture and evacuation of the German general Heinrich Kreipe.Joan Leigh Fermor
Joan Leigh Fermor (5 February 1912 – 4 June 2003) was an English photographer, and wife of author Patrick Leigh Fermor.Lewis Leigh Fermor
Sir Lewis Leigh Fermor, OBE, FRS (18 September 1880 – 24 May 1954), was a British chemist and geologist and the first president of the Indian National Science Academy and a director of the Geological Survey of India (1930-1935). His son was the writer and traveller, Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor.Pargeting
Pargeting (or sometimes pargetting) is a decorative or waterproofing plastering applied to building walls. The term, if not the practice, is particularly associated with the English counties of Suffolk and Essex. In the neighbouring county of Norfolk the term "pinking" is used.
Patrick Leigh Fermor describes similar decorations on pre-World War II buildings in Linz, Austria. "Pargeted façades rose up, painted chocolate, green, purple, cream and blue. They were adorned with medallions in high relief and the stone and plaster scroll-work gave them a feeling of motion and flow."Pargeting derives from the word 'parget', a Middle English term that is probably derived from the Old French pargeter or parjeter, to throw about, or porgeter, to roughcast a wall. However, the term is more usually applied only to the decoration in relief of the plastering between the studwork on the outside of half-timber houses, or sometimes covering the whole wall.The devices were stamped on the wet plaster. This seems generally to have been done by sticking a number of pins in a board in certain lines or curves, and then pressing on the wet plaster in various directions, so as to form geometrical figures. Sometimes these devices are in relief, and in the time of Elizabeth I of England represent figures, birds and foliage. Fine examples can be seen at Ipswich, Maidstone, Newark-on-Trent.The term is also applied to the lining of the inside of smoke flues to form an even surface for the passage of the smoke.The Broken Road
The Broken Road may refer to:
The Broken Road (novel), a 1907 novel by the British writer A. E. W. Mason
The Broken Road (1921 film), a 1921 British film adaptation
The Broken Road (2007 film), a 2007 film by Eric Filson
The Broken Road (Leigh Fermor book), a travel book by Patrick Leigh FermorThe Broken Road (Leigh Fermor book)
The Broken Road (2013) is a travel book by British author Patrick Leigh Fermor. Published posthumously by John Murray, the book, edited by Artemis Cooper, narrates the final section of the author's journey on foot across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933/34.
The first book, A Time of Gifts, narrates Leigh Fermor's journey as far as the Middle Danube. The second volume, Between the Woods and the Water (1986), begins with the author crossing the Mária Valéria bridge from Czechoslovakia into Hungary and ends when he reaches the Iron Gate, where the Danube formed the boundary between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Romania. He never published the third volume, but in 2011 Leigh Fermor's publisher, John Murray announced that it would publish the final volume, drawing from his diary at the time and an early draft that he wrote in the 1960s, subsequently releasing it in September 2013.The cover design is by Ed Kluz; John Craxton who designed the other volumes, had died in 2009.The Middle Passage (book)
The Middle Passage: Impressions of Five Societies - British, French and Dutch in the West Indies and South America is a 1962 book-length essay / travelogue by V. S. Naipaul. It is his first book-length work of non-fiction. It has the sub-title "The Caribbean Revisited".
The book covers a year-long trip through Trinidad, British Guiana, Suriname, Martinique, and Jamaica in 1961. As well as giving his own impressions, Naipaul refers to the work of earlier travellers such as Patrick Leigh Fermor, who described a similar itinerary in The Traveller's Tree (1950). Naipaul addresses a range of topics including the legacy of slavery and colonialism, race relations, the roles of South Asian immigrants in the various countries, and differences in language, culture, and economics.The Roots of Heaven (film)
The Roots of Heaven is a 1958 American adventure film in CinemaScope and DeLuxe Color made for 20th Century Fox, directed by John Huston and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. The screenplay by Romain Gary and Patrick Leigh Fermor is based on Romain Gary's 1956 Prix Goncourt winning novel The Roots of Heaven (Les racines du ciel).
The film starred Errol Flynn, Juliette Gréco, Trevor Howard, Eddie Albert, Orson Welles, Paul Lukas, Herbert Lom and Gregoire Aslan. The film itself was shot on location in French Equatorial Africa.Huston later said Roots of Heaven "could have been a very fine film. And largely owing to me was not a good film at all."Travellers' Century
Travellers' Century is a 2008 BBC Television documentary series presented by Benedict Allen that profiles the lives of three influential 20th-century British travel writers.