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Lawrence Durrell

The following text is a precis of a three hour conversation with the godson of Lawrence Durrell, Georgios Athinaios. This document does not declare to state facts. It is just an impression of how local people remember Lawrence Durrell and how they will pass that on to the next generation. This is something that Lawrence would enjoy too, as he was never reluctant to sacrifice the truth for a good story!

 

He especially enjoyed ‘pirofani’, which is night fishing on the moonless night, using just a torch or lamp.

Lawrence had some really good friends in the island. One of them was “Spiros Chalicopoulos” who had one of the first taxis in the island. “Mary Aspioti”, one of the biggest factory owners at that time in the island of Corfu, the knew very good English and was one of the first tour guides in the area.

In 1939 Lawrence left the island and visited Cyprus, Egypt and settled in Marseilles, South France. He also visited once or twice (following he white tradition) the White Island at the South of England.

A few year ago the Municipality of Kassiopi, were Kalami and The White House is located, installed a marble plate on the entrance of the The White House in memory and honour of this famous guest that gave so much to this part of the world and to whom all are grateful

The White House was built to be Lawrence's study, where he would rest and write his books. However, it turned out that his most favourite location was Agios Asernious, a church between Agni and Krouzeri beach. That is where he wrote the “Prospero’s Cell”.

He stayed with his wife and two daughters until 1939 just before the war.

Lawrence was loved by the locals and he loved them back. He used to go fishing with the local teacher Nikos and his brother John Katsaros.

In 1935, a young journalist called Lawrence Durrell, become the godfather of Georgios Athinaios. The child was named after King George of England, that at that time past through the sea canal that divides Corfu from the mainland.

Durrell fell in love with the island and its locals so he rented the house of Tassos Athinaios called “Prosperos”. That is also the name that he gave to his book (Prospero’s Cell).

He help Tassos build an extra floor to the existing structure and named it White House, because it was painted entirely in the bright Mediterranean white. The Second World War found the house half finished and was completed after the war.

The construction of The White House brought together a lot of the constructors around the area. Headmaster was “Spiros Mavronas” from Kaminaki and ‘Tassos Athinaios” who was a skilful carpenter.