The Durrell family are immortalised in Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals and its ITV adaptation, The Durrells. But what of the real life Durrells? Why did they go to Corfu in the first place - and what happened to them after they left?
The real story of the Durrells is as surprising and fascinating as anything in Gerry's books, and Michael Haag, with his first hand knowledge of the family, is the ideal narrator, drawing on diaries, letters and unpublished autobiographical fragments.
The Durrells of Corfu describes the family's upbringing in India and the crisis that brought them to England and then Greece. It recalls the genuine characters they encountered on Corfu - Theodore the biologist, the taxi driver Spiro Halikiopoulos and the prisoner Kosti - as well as the visit of American writer Henry Miller. And Haag has unearthed the story of how the Durrells left Corfu, including Margo's and Larry's last-minute escapes before the War. An extended epilogue looks at the emergence of Larry as a world famous novelist, and Gerry as a naturalist and champion of endangered species, as well as the lives of the rest of the family, their friends and other animals.
The book is illustrated with family photos from the Gerald Durrell Archive, many of them reproduced here for the first time.
The true story of the Durrell’s
Of course the TV series on the Durrell’s has revived so much interest in this wondrous family. My interest has also been through many of their books so It was with great delight that I was able to do a tour of the Durrell’s Corfu during a recent day visit to that historic island by the cruise ship Queen Victoria. It was a fascinating tour with an excellent and knowledgeable guide that included glimpses of the Strawberry villa, Mouse Island and the Daffodil villa. A visit to the Durrell park and monuments in Corfu town, the villa used in the TV series that had no association with the Durrell’s, but provides an excellent TV location, and finally lunch at the the Taverna of the White House. The house that the family is so much associated with and where Lawrence was supposed have written Prospero’s Cell. In fact much is made of that by both the guide and the staff at the Taverna. Nevertheless it was a marvellous tour, but I only wish I had read this book beforehand. The information provided by the guide and indeed the TV series is based very much on Gerald’s writings and in the TV series, quite fictitious accounts. This book tells the true story and I am so glad to have read it.