First published in The Washington Post 10 June 2011
By Matt Schudel
Patrick Leigh Fermor, who may have been the greatest travel writer of the 20th century, has died at the age of 96. He was one of those intrepid British adventurers of a bygone age who could recite the odes of Horace from memory, sleep in a barn one night and dance with royalty the next.
When he was 18, Mr. Leigh Fermor walked across Europe, and when I say that, I mean exactly that: He walked on his own two feet from England to Turkey. He chronicled this remarkable journey in a book written many years later, “A Time of Gifts.”
During World War II, Mr. Leigh Fermor was part of the British special operations forces and managed to kidnap the German general who was in charge of the occupied island of Crete. Mr. Leigh Fermor conversed with Greek shepherds, using the ancient Greek he had learned in school. He lived with a Romanian princess at her estate in Moldavia. He wrote many books, all with a brilliantly original prose, and was by any standards a remarkable man. The full obituary will follow.