From Matthew Bell’s Diary.
First published in the Independent on Sunday, 12 June 2011.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, author of two of the most poetic travel books ever written, chose to die at home in Worcestershire on Friday, after seeing the world. He was, according to his biographer Artemis Cooper, desperate to come home one last time to see his friends. Since the death of his wife in 2003, Sir Patrick had been living in Kardamyli, his house in the Mani, southern Greece. I can reveal that fans will be able to visit the house, as he has left it to the Benaki Museum in Greece. His death at the age of 96 cast a shadow over the 25th wedding celebrations of Cooper to her husband, the historian Antony Beevor, who held a party in London on Wednesday. Other friends of the writer included Debo, Duchess of Devonshire, whose book of correspondence with Paddy, In Tearing Haste, was a hit in 2008. The good news is that Paddy had nearly finished editing the third and last volume of his travelogue, which follows the wonderful A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. This will cover the year 1935, in which he walked from the Iron Gates, on the Danube, through Bulgaria, Romania and Greece to Constantinople. The pressure is now on for Cooper to finish her biography too. “I have written too many words,” she tells me, “though some parts aren’t written at all.”