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Lawrence Durrell White House

Lawrence Durrell ( 27 February 1912 – 7 November 1990) was an expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist and travel writer. Born in India to British colonial parents, he was sent to England at the age of eleven for his education. He did not like formal education, but started writing poetry at age 15. His first book was published in 1931, when he was 19. In March 1935 he and his wife, and his mother and younger siblings, moved to the island of Corfu. This was the beginning of Durrell’s years of living around the globe.


In Corfu, Lawrence and Nancy lived together in bohemian style. For the first few months the couple lived with the rest of the Durrell family in the Villa Anemoyanni at Kontokali. In early 1936 Durrell and Nancy moved to the White House, a fisherman’s cottage on the shore of Corfu’s northeastern coast at Kalami, then a tiny fishing village. Durrell’s friend Theodore Stephanides, a Greek doctor, scientist, and poet, was a frequent guest; and American writer Henry Miller stayed at the “White House” in 1939.

Durrell fictionalised this period of his sojourn on Corfu in the lyrical novel Prospero’s Cell. His younger brother Gerald Durrell, who became a naturalist, published his own version in his memoir My Family and Other Animals (1954) and in the following two books of Gerald’s so-called Corfu Trilogy, published in 1969 and 1978. Gerald describes Lawrence as living permanently with his mother and siblings—his wife Nancy is not mentioned at all. Lawrence, in his turn, refers only briefly to his brother Leslie, and he does not mention that his mother and two other siblings were also living on Corfu in those years. The accounts cover a few of the same topics; for example, both Gerald and Lawrence describe the roles played in their lives by the Corfiot taxi driver Spiro Amerikanos and the Greek doctor and poet Theodore Stephanides. In Corfu Lawrence became friends with Marie Aspioti, with whom he cooperated in the publication of Lear’s Corfu.0