Introduced by Artemis Cooper
Illustrated by Katyuli Lloyd
Photographs by Joan Eyres Monsell
Patrick Leigh Fermor’s celebrated travel memoirs of Greece, presented in a two-volume set, illustrated and with photographs from the first editions.
Once described as ‘a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene’, Patrick Leigh Fermor has also been called the world’s finest travel writer. In 1958 he completed Mani, an account of his wanderings in the Peloponnese, one of the wildest regions of Greece. He followed it in 1966 with Roumeli, a portrait of the country stretching from Macedonia to the Gulf of Corinth. More than a simple exploration of these two wild and remote regions, the books are a love letter to the country's culture, language, mythology and people – Leigh Fermor was in love with the idea of Greece as well as its reality, and his beautiful and often lyrical writing summons its very essence.
Along with his wife Joan Eyres Monsell, Leigh Fermor explored those isolated regions cut off to casual tourists by the jagged Taygetus mountains and inhospitable coasts. During their travels they met with Sarakatsán shepherds and ate twice-baked bread softened in spring water, spent the evening in one of the Mani’s famous ‘blood-feud’ towers and visited the cave said to be the entrance to Hades. In Leigh Fermor’s Greece the past is always present, and the country’s active relationship with its ancient and storied history is alive on every page. On the tiny island of Seriphos, a young boy shows Leigh Fermor the chapel where the head of Medusa is said to be buried, cheerfully presented to the writer as though the gorgon had been decapitated only the week before. In one charming incident, Leigh Fermor and his wife attempt to retrieve a pair of Lord Byron’s slippers, despite having lost the name of the man who has guardianship of them. The character of Greece, and Leigh Fermor’s passion for it, shine through in these encounters. The author and his wife would eventually make their home there.
‘Mani and Roumeli: two of the best travel books of the 20th century’
During their travels, Joan took a series of remarkable photographs, and Leigh Fermor would often to refer to these during the writing process. Since the publication of the first edition the photographs have rarely been seen, but they have been fully reinstated for this two-volume set – an inclusion that makes this the most comprehensive edition available. British illustrator Katyuli Lloyd has provided a series of black and white illustrations and a pair of atmospheric binding designs. Lloyd proved to be an unusually apt choice for the edition – Leigh Fermor was a family friend, and wrote Mani in the village of Kamini, where the artist’s grandparents made a living as potters. As a teenager Lloyd herself fell in love with Leigh Fermor’s writing via a Folio Society edition of W. Stanley Moss's Ill Met by Moonlight, an account of Moss and Leigh Fermor’s SOE activities in Crete during WW2 and to which Leigh Fermor had contributed an afterword. Lloyd has written that working on the Folio editions of Mani and Roumeli was ‘moving’ and ‘poignant’. Familiar with the region, the artist travelled there to create her pen-and-ink drawings on location.
‘In these remote mountains, on foot among the rocks and the high villages, it is possible to forget all the changes that have taken place in the world’
In her introduction, Patrick Leigh Fermor’s biographer Artemis Cooper describes how the writer reveals ‘a country deeper and richer than his readers had ever imagined’. This special edition brings the two books together in a striking blocked slipcase, and each volume includes a map.
Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915–2011) was a writer, scholar and soldier. At the age of 18 he walked from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul, a journey which inspired two of the 20 century’s greatest travel books, A Time of Gifts (1977) and Between the Woods and the Water (1986). During the Second World War, Leigh Fermor served with the Irish Guards, and joined the Special Operations Executive in 1941, helping to co-ordinate the resistance in German-occupied Crete, and commanding, as he put it, ‘some minor guerrilla operations’. The most audacious was the ambush and kidnap of the man overseeing the Nazi occupation of the island, General Heinrich Kreipe. For this he received the OBE and the DSO. Literary success arrived in 1950 with an award-winning travel book about the Caribbean (The Traveller’s Tree ), followed by a novel (The Violins of Saint-Jacques, 1953) and an account of his retreat into monasteries (A Time to Keep Silence, 1957). His travels in Greece, where he settled with Joan Eyres Monsell in Kardamyli on the Mani peninsula, produced Mani (1958) and Roumeli (1966). Mani won the 1959 Duff Cooper Prize. Among his many awards and decorations are the Chevalier, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1995), and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Guild of Travel Writers and a knighthood, both awarded in 2011.
Joan Eyres Monsell (1912–2003) was a traveller and a photographer of landscapes and architecture. During the Second World War Monsell was commissioned to photograph buildings that were vulnerable to bombing, and later worked in the cipher departments of embassies in Madrid, Algiers and Cairo, where she met her future husband, Patrick Leigh Fermor. They married in 1963. Joan accompanied Leigh Fermor on many of his travels, including the Caribbean (a trip which produced the book The Traveller’s Tree), France and the remote regions of Greece. Her photographs accompanied the first editions of Mani, Roumeli and A Time to Keep Silence.
Artemis Cooper is a historian, biographer and editor. She has written and edited a number of books about Patrick Leigh Fermor, including his biography, Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure (2012), an anthology of his writings, Words of Mercury (2003), and she edited (with Colin Thubron) The Broken Road (2013), the last and posthumous volume of Leigh Fermor’s trilogy about his walk across Europe in the 1930s. Her other books include Cairo in the War, 1939–1945 (for which she interviewed Leigh Fermor at length), Paris After the Liberation (1994; Folio edition 2009) written with the historian Antony Beevor, Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David (1999) and Elizabeth Jane Howard: A Dangerous Innocence (2016).
Katyuli Lloyd studied for a Masters in Children’s Book Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art, 2014–16. Her illustrations for Virginia Woolf’s Flush were shortlisted for both the V&A Illustration Award and the World Illustration Awards in 2016.
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