Tag Archives: John Murray

Until I have reached Constantinople

Patrick Leigh Fermor working at his home studio on 3 October 2004, then aged 89. Kardamyli. by Sean Deany Copyright 2012

In the catalogue to the exhibition Charmed Lives in Greece: Ghika, Craxton, Leigh Fermor (at the British Museum until July 15), Michael Llewellyn-Smith writes that, in his later years, Patrick Leigh Fermor “had an all-purpose excuse to send to pesterers”. The note read: “It was very kind of you to write. The trouble is that I am having to work to a strict deadline for the completion of my new book. This makes me a poor correspondent until I have finished it and have reached Constantinople – I am not sure when this will be”.

By James Campbell

First Published in The Times Literary Supplement 12 April 2018

The warning to inquisitive readers, colour-supplement journalists, adventurous holidaymakers and others was despatched from Kardamyli in Mani, in the Southern Peloponnese, from the house which Fermor had built himself, with local labour and expertise, in the mid-1960s. It was where he had completed the first two parts of his account of the “great trudge” across ­Central Europe in the 1930s, projected to end, in a long-anticipated third volume, in “Constantinople”. The book itself had become something of a pest, and he failed to complete it before his death in 2011, aged ninety-six. His wife Joan had died there eight years earlier.

I knew nothing of this when I posted a letter to Kardamyli in the autumn of 2003. I was not a Fermor devotee (there were many, though nothing like the numbers that exist today) and had read scarcely anything he had written. It was not my idea to seek him out, but that of my editor at the Guardian Saturday Review, for which I was at the time a contracted writer. The regular task was a literary profile, of a good length – 4,000 words – and of a certain seriousness. Starting from a position of ignorance didn’t bother me. I liked “finding out”, and enjoyed the homework.

Suggestions from Farringdon Road came by telephone, later email, and were always to the point. “How about Patrick Leigh Fermor?” That was it. No address, no telephone number, no deadline. The rest was up to me, but I was free to go where I liked and when I liked. I had fulfilled many commissions in this way, and had discovered something: it works better when you contact the intended subject yourself to make arrangements, rather than going through the publisher’s press office. The people there do necessary work, but with their more valued (and venerable) charges there is a protective instinct, and a need to control the show.

Fermor was definitely a protected species. His ninetieth birthday was approaching. His publisher John Murray was desperate for him to reach Constantinople. The journey, which had taken place in the 1930s, had been given elegant shape in two books written forty and fifty years after the events described: A Time of Gifts (1977) and Between the Woods and the Water (1986). The final volume, endlessly, pestiferously, inquired about, was said to be inching forwards. Both my editor and I made approaches to the publicity department; both received vague promises of representation. In the end, both were urged to think about volume 3, like everybody else.

I decided to take the direct route. But how to find him? I tried some acquaintances who might know his address. None did. Someone suggested Elizabeth Chatwin, widow of Bruce, Continue reading

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Dashing for the Post

dashing for postJohn Murray continues to offer us new insights into Paddy’s life and times. They will publish a collection of letters penned by Paddy on 6 October 2016.

The collection entitled Dashing for the Post was announced on 11th February on what would have been Leigh Fermor’s 101st birthday.

John Murray says the letters will exhibit many of his “endearing characteristics”, including “his zest for life, his unending curiosity, his keen sense of place, his lyrical descriptive powers, his love of words, his fluency in a remarkable range of languages, his boyish exuberance, and his sense of fun”.

Many of the letters are written to friends and family, but the collection also includes correspondence with Ian Fleming, Nancy Mitford, Lawrence Durrell, Diana Cooper and Deborah Devonshire.

Exclusive material will be taken from the National Library of Scotland, as well as letters drawn from private collections in the UK and abroad.

Adam Sisman, the book’s editor, is an honorary fellow of the University of St Andrews and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Dashing for the Post will be published in hardback and e-book on 6th October 2016. John Murray publisher Roland Philipps bought world rights from the Leigh Fermor estate.

Philipps said: “Paddy Leigh Fermor was one of the greatest prose stylists of the twentieth century. His letters have his hallmark high spirits, marvellous humour, magpie-like mind for the telling fact, erudition, linguistic mastery and sheer brilliance. Eight years ago In Tearing Haste (John Murray) Paddy’s letters to and from the Duchess of Devonshire, was a major bestseller. Dashing for the Post has his full range of correspondents, and is even more of a joy than that first book.”

You can pre-order Dashing for the Post: The Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor by clicking here.

Painting the John Murray archive

Buchannan PaddyIn January’s report on the presentation by David McClay, the curator of the John Murray archive at the National Library of Scotland, I mentioned an exhibition of watercolours by Hugh Buchannan which is now moving to the John Martin Gallery in Albemarle Street from 18 September.

Buchannan’s paintings include details from a wide range of author material included within the archive from Byron, Austin, Sir Walter Scott, Irving and of course Paddy’s legacy.

The exhibition runs from 18 September to 10 October 2015 at the John Martin Gallery, 38 Albemarle St, London, W1S 4JG. Further details here.

You can download the catalogue as a pdf here.

Audible

A new book by Patrick Leigh Fermor- Abducting a General – to be published in October

'Billy' Moss and Paddy Leigh Fermor

‘Billy’ Moss and Paddy Leigh Fermor

I have just learned that we can look forward to a new book by Paddy relating the events of the Kreipe kidnap. Based upon his own account called Abducting a General, the book is due to be published by John Murray in October 2014. A pity it misses the precise date of the 70th anniversary, but welcome nonetheless.

We will be blessed with a lot of new material about the abduction and its key players this year. We have already had the new book by Wes Davis, The Ariadne Objective, which contains a lot of new material after painstaking research, and ‘Billy’ Moss’ account of his time in SOE after the exploits on Crete, A War of Shadows, is also due for republication in April.

The John Murray website tells us this:

A daring behind-enemy-lines mission from the author of A Time of Gifts and The Broken Road.

One of the greatest feats in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s remarkable life was the kidnapping of General Kreipe, the German commander in Crete, on 26 April 1944. He and Captain Billy Moss hatched a daring plan to abduct the general, while ensuring that no reprisals were taken against the Cretan population. Dressed as German military police, they stopped and took control of Kreipe’s car, drove through twenty-two German checkpoints, then succeeded in hiding from the German army before finally being picked up on a beach in the south of the island and transported to safety in Egypt on 14 May.

Abducting a General is Leigh Fermor’s own account of the kidnap, published for the first time. Written in his inimitable prose, and introduced by acclaimed SOE historian Professor Roderick Bailey, it is a glorious first-hand account of one of the great adventures of the Second World War. Also included in this book are Leigh Fermor’s intelligence reports, sent from caves deep within Crete yet still retaining his remarkable prose skills, which bring the immediacy of SOE operations vividly alive, as well as the peril which the SOE and Resistance were operating under; and a guide to the journey that Kreipe was taken on from the abandonment of his car to the embarkation site so that the modern visitor can relive this extraordinary event.

The publication date for Abducting a General is set for 9 October.

Preview copy of The Broken Road

The Broken Road book cover

The Broken Road book cover

Not only did I have a lovely meal last night with friends, and awoke to a beautiful English summer’s morning, but my preview copy of The Broken Road was delivered this morning. It looks as beautiful as you would expect and I was pleased to see that Colin Thubron is given “lead billing” as editor; Colin has sometimes been overlooked but this is very much a joint project with Artemis Cooper.

I am looking forward to reading it in my lunch break today!!

The book is available to pre-order from Amazon, just click here The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos

More pictures from the launch of Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure

Some further pictures from the launch of the biography last week in Paddy’s old Club, The Travellers, in Pall Mall.

Read Patrick Leigh Fermor’s ‘magical’ tour here and listen to the Radio 4 Today programme recording.

 

 

Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure will also be the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week from 19th November onwards.

You can buy Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure here.

Don’t forget to visit Artemis Cooper’s Facebook page for further information.

Worldwide availability of An Adventure by Artemis Cooper

A short update to follow-up the question asked by many of you unlucky enough not to be resident in this wet and sceptered isle; will An Adventure be published elsewhere other than in the UK in October?

The answer is yes, and certainly for the following countries. I am informed that it will appear in bookshops in Canada, Germany, France, Greece, New Zealand (especially for you Maggie), and of course Australia. In the US it will be published by the New York Review of Books.

One would imagine that copies may only be available in English at this stage. I will keep you all updated.

To pre-order or purchase your copy of An Adventure click here.