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Patrick Leigh Fermor (Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor) Biography

(1915– ), (Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor), A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water

born in London, educated at King's School, Canterbury. From 1935 to 1939 he travelled from Rotterdam to Istanbul; the first two books of a trilogy describing the journey, A Time of Gifts (1977) and Between the Woods and the Water (1985), form a richly evocative record of European social and cultural patterns destroyed by the Second World War. He received the OBE and DSO for his active service in Albania and Greece from 1939 to 1945; he spent two years in occupied Crete organizing guerrilla activities and led the party which captured General Kreipe, the island's German commander. Following a period as director of the British Institute in Athens, he became a freelance writer and translator. He rapidly achieved recognition as a travel writer through the idiosyncratic elegance and vividness of The Traveller's Tree (1950), an account of his experiences in the Caribbean, where his novel The Violins of St Jacques (1953) is set. His translations include The Cretan Runner (1955) by George Psychoundakis. Mani (1958), recording his travels in the Southern Peloponnese, and Roumeli (1966), which deals with Northern Greece, gained him eminence among the travel writers of his generation; the books display his characteristic ability to range fluently between a precisely erudite vocabulary and an energetically lyrical expression of his delight in what he encounters and perceives. Fermor's other works include A Time To Keep Silence (1953), his ‘meditations on monastic life’, and Three Letters from the Andes (1991), both of which originate in letters to his wife.

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