The Anglo-Irish novelist, poet, playwright and travel writer Lawrence Durrell was born on 27th February, 1912.
Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)
He has a long and close association with Corfu, Greece
The White House, Corfu where Larry and his first wife Nancy lived from 1935
Like Durrell, I have spent a formative part of my life knocking about the Mediterranean. I have lived in Cyprus, the south of France and Egypt - places Durrell knew well and wrote about with such passion and elan.
I also know Cairo and Alexandria and have been back to Egypt at least five times since my childhood.
The last time I explored Upper Egypt was with my son when we celebrated his 21st birthday with a week's trip by boat up the Nile.
Larry is on the right - with his younger brother Gerald, their sister Margo
and formidable mother Louisa
As a child I also lived for a year or so in Cyprus while Durrell himself was living just a few miles away in Kyrenia.
This is me in Cyprus in 1952. That year the rabbit population on the island increased ten-fold, entirely due to my activities as a 'Young Farmer'!
I knew nothing of Durrell then for I was only ten or eleven but later, when I discovered first The Alexandria Quartet (1962) and then his book on Cyprus, Bitter Lemons (1957) I was hooked
Me on Corfu, 1965
Later, when I was working as a director in television, I took back an elderly lady who had been a child in the Valley of the Kings during the year Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamen's treasure. Her father was Carter's assistant
This trip became a BBC documentary
The view from my village - Chlomotiana, Corfu
Now I live in Corfu - an island Larry first came to as a young man with his brothers, sister and mother in 1935
His younger brother, Gerald, became a writer and a zoologist and his celebrated account of those happy days on Corfu is wonderfully captured in My family and other animals (1956)
Larry with Claude (later his third wife) and Claude's two children. The woman in a head scarf is Cuban novelist Anais Nin. Larry's daughter Sappho is on the left. As a young woman she later committed suicide
This last year, here on Corfu, I also discovered (very late in life, I must confess) Durrell the poet.
Lawrence Durrel was at the top of the literary world in the 1950's and 60's but is less widely read now. That is a shame because he remains a very great writer.
The illustrations for this article are taken from Gordon Bowker's dazzling biography of Durrell. Its called Through the Dark Labyrinth and was published by Pimlico in 1998