peter H

At the end of chapter 5, just as L and Nancy arrived in Corfu, I wrote somewhat vaguely (partly because I couldn’t remember where I’d heard it, and partly because it was one of those things that people hear in different ways) ‘There’s a story that some of the islanders, who knew the family before the war, claimed that when Nancy left in August 1939 a part of her spirit remained behind.’

Peter Harrison, who helped Botting quite a bit in his biography of Gerald, sent this very helpful note a few days ago (my vague recollection must have originated with him):

Please make it clear that it was only during the War years that certain people believed that Nancy’s spirit invaded Kalami. Always at times of stress, and of course only while she was alive. Not since the war, and particularly not now that she’s dead. I’d hate to think of people going to Kalami today and expecting to “experience” Nancy !

 I only heard people talking like this 40+ years ago, not since. But when I first went to Corfu in 1969-1970 I was amazed that the people I met in the Kalami region who actually remembered the Durrell family from the 1930’s, didn’t [as I’d expected and hoped] have anything to say about Lawrence or Gerald, or of any of the other members of the immediate family; only about Nancy. And, when talking about how they experienced Nancy’s presence in Kalami during the War, they said this to me in the knowledge that she had been alive during the War. So they weren’t talking about a ghost, or about a “part of her spirit” remaining in the bay after she left. They were actually talking about the spirit of someone still alive whom they knew and loved and who, in their honest opinion, made her presence known to them at times of stress and trouble during those particular years. Which is something I personally believe was possible, and probably did happen. But it ceased to happen after the War.

It’s a strange sidelight on the story of their Corfu years.



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