By Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Traveller’s Tree (1950)
The Violins of Saint-Jacques (1953)
A Time to Keep Silence (1957)
A Time of Gifts (1977)
Between the Woods and the Water (1986)
Three Letters from the Andes (1991)
Words of Mercury (2003)
In Tearing Haste (2008)
The Broken Road (2013)
Abducting a General (2014)
Dashing for the Post (2016)
Other related titles
Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure
Ill Met by Moonlight
A War of Shadows
The Cretan Runner (trans by PLF)
The Ariadne Objective
Kidnap in Crete
Walking the Woods and the Water
Cairo in the War
Sons of Odysseus
Hide and Seek
Crete 1941: The Battle & The Resistance
Sunflower Guide to the Southern Peloponnese
In this, his first book, Patrick Leigh Fermor recounts his tales of a personal odyssey to the lands of the Traveller's Tree - a tall, straight-trunked tree whose sheath-like leaves collect copious amounts of water.
'Paddy's portrayal of the islands could be said to have jump-started the tourism industry upon which the Caribbean has since largely depended.' (Geographical Magazine)
'Being a natural romantic ... he was able to probe the hidden recesses of this mixed civilisation and to present us with a picture of the Indies more penetrating and original than any that has been presented before.' (Harold Nicolson, The Observer)
On an Aegean island one summer, an English traveller meets an enigmatic elderly Frenchwoman. He is captivated by a painting she owns of a busy Caribbean port overlooked by a volcano and, in time, she shares the story of her youth there in the early twentieth century.
'Excellent ... A graceful picture of life on an unusual and exotic island that has both colour and charm.' (Times Literary Supplement)
'This little masterpiece is a perfect tour de force.' (Simon Winchester)
'Beautiful is the adjective which comes uppermost ... [Patrick Leigh Fermor] is a writer with outstanding descriptive powers.' (John Betjeman, Daily Telegraph)
From the French Abbey of St Wandrille to the abandoned and awesome Rock Monasteries of Cappadocia in Turkey, the celebrated travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor studies the rigorous contemplative lives of the monks and the timeless beauty of their monastic surroundings.
'The genius of Patrick Leigh Fermor is a many splendoured thing. Soldier, traveller, writer, Phihellene ... he has already dazzled and delighted ... It is some time since more truth and beauty were distilled into a hundred pages.' (Stewart Perowne)
'A most successful attempt to portray the reactions of the man of the world (in the literal sense) when confronted with the monastic life.' (Daily Telegraph)
This is Patrick Leigh Fermor's spellbinding part-travelogue, part inspired evocation of a part of Greece's past.
'From the Mani he has brought back riches. How can one do justice to the fascination and poetry of this book, its generosity and its learning - its love?' (Spectator)
'Mani and Roumeli: two of the best travel books of the century.' (Financial Times)
Its northern counterpart takes the reader among Sarakatsan shepherds, the monasteries of Meteora and the villages of Krakora, among itinerant pedlars and beggars, and even tracks down at Missolonghi a pair of Byron's slippers.
'A wandering scholar but with a difference: unlike the celebrated travellers of the past he has become part of the country he describes.' (Sunday Times)
'Leigh Fermor is a writer's writer, a man whose prose is frequently and justifiably likened to poetry. He writes like an angel in other words -- and angels don't date.' (Justin Marozzi, Financial Times)
In 1933, at the age of 18, Patrick Leigh Fermor set out on an extraordinary journey by foot - from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. A Time of Gifts is the first volume in a trilogy recounting the trip, and takes the reader with him as far as Hungary.
Nothing short of a masterpiece (Jan Morris)
'Not only is the journey one of physical adventure but of cultural awakening. Architecture, art, genealogy, quirks of history and language are all devoured - and here passed on - with a gusto uniquely his.' (Colin Thubron, Sunday Telegraph)
'Every page of this book is distinguished by an image, a metaphor, a flash of humour always original and sometimes as incisive as a laser beam.' (Vincent Cronin)
Picking up from the very spot on a bridge across the Danube where his readers last saw him, we travel on with him across the great Hungarian Plain on horseback, and over the Romanian border to Transylvania.
'Between the Woods and the Water is a book so good you resent finishing it.' (Sunday Times)
'The finest travelling companion we could ever have... His head is stocked with cultural lore and poetic fancy to make every league an adventure.' (Christopher Hudson, Evening Standard)
I have never enjoyed a travel book more and I would doubt if I will ever enjoy one so much again (Robin Lane Fox)
In 1971 the celebrated traveller Patrick Leigh Fermor accompanied five friends on a remarkable journey into the high Andes of Peru.His adventure took him from Cuzco to Urubamba, on to Puno and Juli on Lake Titicaca, down to Arequipa and finally back to Lima.
'Patrick Leigh Fermor is an exquisite among travel writers ... Having a polished sense of poetry and a bright sense of humour, he outshines Lawrence ... This is a delicious book.' (Sunday Telegraph)
'There is a pleasure to be had on every page. Here is a writer who can find something fascinating in the dullest characters and the most drab towns. He is a master stylist, too, revelling in the possibilities of language, striving always to be exact. Few travel writers can create atmosphere quite as thickly, but then few have such extraordinary anecdotes to tell...it [the anthology] serves as a reminder that Leigh Fermor is one of the greatest travel writers of all time.' (Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times)
'Paddy Leigh Fermor - war hero, linguist, adventurer - is at heart a great storyteller ... he draws the reader, like his huge acquaintance, into instant intimacy. His achievement is to be who he is - even more than what he has done. This collection beautifully illustrates both.' (Max Hastings, Sunday Telegraph)
In spring 1956, Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire - youngest of the six legendary Mitford sisters - invited the writer and war hero Patrick Leigh Fermor to visit Lismore Castle, the Devonshires' house in Ireland. This halcyon visit sparked off a deep friendship and a lifelong exchange of sporadic but highly entertaining letters.
'Packed with gossip, creaky jokes and gadding about...all but the most inverted of snobs will enjoy a cheery time in these pages.' (Christopher Hirst, The Independent)
'Part of the charm of this impeccably edited correspondence is a sense of the lacrimae rerum, of a vanished world of high romance.' (Daily Telegraph)
'This marvellous correspondence celebrates two of the most important things in the world, courage and friendship.' (Spectator)
The Broken Road brings together two texts which he left behind him. The first, astonishingly, almost completes his walk to Constantinople; it was written in the early 1960s then set aside for correction and never finished. The second, his only surviving diary, describes the weeks he spent on Mount Athos immediately afterwards, and was written on the spot.
'Nobody could do the job better than the book's editors. Colin Thubron is a travel writer of Leigh Fermor's calibre, Artemis Cooper is his masterly biographer ... It contains wonderful passages of purest Leigh Fermor ... Time and again he gives us vivid glimpses of encounters along the way - priests and peasants, the squalors of the back country, high life in Bucharest - and this virtuoso display is embedded as always in his astonishing range of learning ... full of fun, kindness, easy learning, sophistication and innocence ... a gently fitting conclusion to his tumultuous masterpiece.' (Jan Morris, Mail on Sunday)
'It is magnificent. Cooper and Thubron have done an immense service in bringing the book to publication, for it unmistakably stands comparison with its remarkable siblings. The prose has the glorious turbulence and boil of the first two books, and the youthful magic of his 'dream-odyssey' is still potent.' (Robert MacFarlane, The Times)
'It takes some chutzpah to kidnap a German general - and serious presence of mind to get away with it. Paddy, the Special Operations Executive commander of a group of 11 Cretan andartes, or guerrilla fighters, together with his second-in-command Captain William Stanley Moss, had excessive stores of both ... Abducting a General ... is the work of a mature man, anxious to pay proper tribute to the Cretans who were the backbone of the resistance and ran by far the greatest risks. His SOE reports, which run to 90 pages here, provide gripping cinematic portraits of Leigh Fermor the soldier.' (The Spectator)
'Leigh Fermor's many fans will find plenty of the old master's fizz in this resurrected work.' (Scotsman)
'Paddy's vividly idiomatic reports irresistibly take us in to the skulduggery and derring-do ... a wonderful story.' (Jan Morris, Literary Review)
The letters in this collection span almost seventy years, the first written ten days before Paddy's twenty-fifth birthday, the last when he was ninety-four. His correspondents include Deborah Devonshire, Ann Fleming, Nancy Mitford, Lawrence Durrell, Diana Cooper and his lifelong companion, Joan Rayner; he wrote his first letter to her in his cell at the monastery Saint Wandrille, the setting for his reflections on monastic life in A Time to Keep Silence. His letters exhibit many of his most engaging characteristics: his zest for life, his unending curiosity, his lyrical descriptive powers, his love of language, his exuberance and his tendency to get into scrapes - particularly when drinking and, quite separately, driving.
Here are plenty of extraordinary stories: the hunt for Byron's slippers in one of the remotest regions of Greece; an ignominious dismissal from Somerset Maugham's Villa Mauresque; hiding behind a bush to dub Dirk Bogarde into Greek during the shooting of Ill Met by Moonlight, the film based on the story of General Kreipe's abduction; his extensive travels. Some letters contain glimpses of the great and the good, while others are included purely for the joy of the jokes.
'Adam Sisman is a model editor... Reading these letters is like gobbling down a tray of exotically filled chocolates, with no horrible orange creams to put you off.' (Harry Mount, Literary Review)
‘Dashing for the Post is hugely entertaining, funny and occasionally moving... Adam Sisman has edited the book brilliantly and meticulously.’ (Sara Wheeler, The Observer)
‘Here is a veritable feats for fans of Paddy Leigh Fermor... Sisman has done a tremendous job selecting and editing this treasure-trove of letters.’ (Justin Marozzi, The Spectator)
'Happy the hero who, after a lifetime of glorious achievement, in death finds a biographer worthy of his memory. Artemis Cooper ... makes this marvellous book less a mere life story than an evocation. [Patrick Leigh Fermor] is justly commemorated in this magnificent biography, and will surely be remembered for ever as one of the very best of men.' (Jan Morris, Sunday Telegraph)
'Magnificent ... Cooper's book is the perfect memorial to this remarkable man ... For those of us who loved him and his work, and for a whole generation of writers who set off in his footsteps, he was the exemplar, showing how magnificently an English life could still be lived. He remains ... the model to which we still aspire.' (William Dalrymple, FT)
'Artemis Cooper has done a brilliant job. The story rips along, as Leigh Fermor's life did, with friends and lovers, books and journeys and parties. And in the quieter moments we are left with something far more enduring: a man for whom the world was endlessly fascinating, and who found that he could create for his readers with carefully crafted words the same wonder that it gave him.' (Philip Marsden, Mail on Sunday)
'There is a forward by MRD Foot, plus an afterword by Paddy Leigh Fermor, neither of which appeared in the previous editions, but the prologue and epilogue by Iain Moncreiffe, which were always present, are a delight. The extract from Fermor's letter to him, beautifully written from wartime Crete - "My island home, where the minotaurs roam" is the last word in self-deprecation.
And the story? Well, everybody who's got the slightest drop of red blood in his veins, knows the story - two wartime adventurers, Bill Stanley-Moss and Paddy Leigh Fermor who, as part of SOE's Force 133 were infiltrated into the German occupied island of Crete with but one objective - to kidnap General Kreipe, the commander of the Sevastopol Division and take him to the allies in Cairo. How they achieved this with a handful of Cretan andartes (resistance fighters) is thrilling stuff indeed, which resulted in Fermor being awarded an immediate DSO and Moss, an MC.' (R D M Kirby)
Just before the war, an 18 year old Billy Moss was living in a log cabin on the Latvian coast. On returning to England he was commissioned into the Coldstream Guards, and then fought with his regiment in North Africa before being seconded to SOE to operate behind enemy lines in Crete, Macedonia and Siam (Thailand). After the war he became a writer, broadcaster and journalist travelling around the world - especially Antarctica and the Pacific. He died in 1965 and two daughters from his marriage to Countess Zofia Tarnowska survive him.
'Billy Moss was one of those daring adventurers, the like of which we no longer see. His first book, Ill Met by Moonlight, about the kidnapping of General Kreipe, became a celebrated film. This book, reissued after 52 years, tells of his further exploits in Crete, Macedonia and Siam the story of a man of initiative and great courage.' (Hugo Vickers)
'One of the finest memoirs of behind-the-lines work during the Second World War. Honest, powerful and authentic.' (Dr Roderick Bailey)
George Psychoundakis was a young shepherd boy who knew the island of Crete intimately when the Nazis invaded by air in 1941. He immediately joined the resistance and took on the crucial job of war-time runner.
It was not only the toughest but the most dangerous job of all. It involved immense journeys carrying vital messages, smuggling arms and explosives and guiding Allied soldiers, agents and commandos through heavily garrisoned territory.
'An exciting, fast-moving and crisply written adventure story... Highly recommended.' (The Literary Review)
'Wes Davis’s fast-paced tale of wartime sabotage reads more like an Ian Fleming thriller than a mere retelling of events.' (Wall Street Journal)
'What really sets the book apart from the host of look-alikes is Davis’s dedication to fleshing out the eccentricity of the main players... It is surely a good thing that we no longer associate war with adventure; if it were always as appealing as Davis has made it here, we would grow to love it too much.' (Daily Beast)
'An exhilarating account of Paddy's hair-raising kidnapping of a Nazi general that was ultimately of dubious strategic value.' (Spectator)
'A rollicking outsider's account, written with great verve and dash, containing much telling new material, some of which is gathered from previously untapped Cretan sources . Examines these matters at length and provides what is probably the fullest, most fluent record of the kidnap yet written, while giving the Cretan partisans a more central role than they have received in any account since that of Psychoundakis.' (William Dalrymple, New Statesman)
'Nick Hunt has written a glorious book, rich with insight and wit, about walking his way both across and into contemporary Europe. He set out as an homage to Patrick Leigh Fermor's legendary tramp across Europe in the early 1930s, but his journey became - of course - an epic adventure in its own right. A book about gifts, modernity, endurance and landscape, it represents a fine addition to the literature of the leg.' (Robert Macfarlane)
'This moving and profoundly honest book sometimes brings a sense of unlimited freedom, sometimes joy, sometimes an extraordinary, dream-like dislocation: always accompanied by a dazzling sharpness of hearing and vision. I see now how that youthful walk informed so much of Paddy's style. Before setting out Hunt was going to write to Paddy. The letter was never written, and by the time he set off, Paddy was dead. How touched and fascinated he would have been to read this book.' (Artemis Cooper)
For troops in the desert, Cairo meant fleshpots or brass hats. For well-connected officers, it meant polo at the Gezira Club and drinks at Shepheard's. For the irregular warriors, Cairo was a city to throw legendary parties before the next mission behind enemy lines. For countless refugees, it was a stopping place in the long struggle home.
'As hard to put down as good fiction. The research is wide, detailed and scrupulous. It is hard to think, on finishing, how this demanding book could have been handled better, more lucidly or more entertaining.' (Patrick Leigh Fermor, Times Literary Supplement)
'What lifts it out of the ordinary is the sparkle of the writing and its command of the background.' (P. H. Newby, Sunday Telegraph)
'Much more than a lively and amusing social history. With enormous skill she has shaped it into a gripping account of the progress of the war itself and of the fortunes of its major protagonists. The result is bracing and salutary and very readable indeed.' (Charles Allen, Sunday Times)
In this fascinating new study of SOE heroes in Greece, the author recounts how SOE missions through their courage, patience and determination, attempted to come to terms with reconciling British political and military objectives in the cauldron of internecine Greek politics.
'Sons of Odysseus is a fascinating study that sheds important light, long overdue, on the remarkable exploits of a selection of SOE personnel dispatched to fight in enemy-occupied Greece.' (Dr Roderick Bailey)
'His thorough research has produced a marvelous book...Brimming with anecdote and full of character ... very readable ... [the author] is to be congratulated on producing a superb book that is a fitting tribute to those who fought with SOE in Greece.' (Guards Magazine)
Hide and Seek is a classic of British war literature, an understated account of a man's coming-of-age thanks to the sudden shouldering of great responsibility. Fielding is deprecating about the dangers and his own achievements. It is typical of the quiet and reticent man who preferred to live outside the limelight and wrote matter-of-factly about the war rather than with a gloss of adventure or heroism.
'This is a good story simply told without being over-dramatised. The characters come to the surface with the lightness of touch of a ink drawing. I am surprised it has been out of print so long. The publishers are to be congratulated for re-issuing it.' (R Reade)
'Definitely worth a read if you love the PLF stories of wartime Crete. A similar perspective but well worth the time.' (Fairview)
'During the Second World War, Xan Fielding served for two years as an officer in the British Special Operations Executive on German-occupied Crete, where he ran an intelligence network in cooperation with the Cretan resistance movement.
Seven years later, Fielding returned to Crete to spend a year traveling in the island's White Mountains (the "stronghold" of the title), revisiting sites of his wartime exploits and seeking out former comrades who had returned to their peacetime lives. His sojourn resulted in this remarkable memoir, a documentary-like record of days spent among Cretan peasants blended with history and literature—a travelogue like no other.
Fielding was laying ghosts for himself by returning to Crete. Fascinating how some of the local/regional characteristics still prevail, 60 years on. Having always thought that Loutro was a bit claustrophobic, I shall look at it in a new way.' (C P)
'Lovely book. Simple straightforward and also beautifully describes the landscapes visited. Well worth a read for anyone who loved the wartime heroes of Crete.' (Fairview)
'Antony Beevor's superbly readable 1994 history of the World War II battle for the Greek island of Crete has been reissued with a new introduction and the same detailed, breathless narrative. It begins with the fall of Greece to German forces, including the ill-fated British intervention.
It continues with the chaotic retreat to Crete of various British, Australian, New Zealand, and Greek Army formations, decimated by the fighting on the mainland and pursued across the Aegean Sea by the Luftwaffe. It climaxes with the daring German airborne invasion of the island, a ground-breaking first that turned into a bloodbath, enabled by the Allied failure to take advantage of its advance knowledge of German plans.
The back third of the book covers the Cretan resistance to German occupation, aided by British agents and complicated by clashes between Greek factions.' (D S Thurlow)
'Antony Beevor's unerring flair for the climate and the feel of the conflict ... his insight and his grasp of these vents make them seem as though they had happened last week.' (Patrick Leigh Fermor, Daily Telegraph)
'Excellent ... an arresting account of the whole war on Crete, including the ghastly experiences of the Cretans under German occupation.' (John Keegan, Sunday Telegraph)
In 2009, Patrick Leigh Fermor's Spanish-language translator, Dolores Payás, visited the writer in his Greek home for the first time.
By this time he was well advanced in years. Even so he received her with open arms and made her feel at home. A friendship sprung, other visits followed.
The legendary adventurer and man of letters sat his translator at his table, stuffing her with food, drink and words (particularly drink and words). In short, he granted her access into his universe. This little book is a charming, personal and moving portrait of Patrick Leigh Fermor during his final years.
There are hidden landscape treasures throughout mainland Greece, but the region which packs the most variety into the smallest space is the Peloponnese. From the beaches of Arcadia to the fir forests of Mt Parnon, from the olive groves of Kalamata to the pyramidal peak of Prophet Elijah, from classical Sparta to medieval Mani, this compact semi-island has it all.
Five car tours, each with picnic suggestions (and two accompanying touring maps), 55 long and short walks (each illustrated with 1:50,000 topo maps). Free online update service with specific route change information on the publisher's website, maintained daily.
'As someone who has enjoyed trekking in Greece with Michael, I can tell you that this book is almost as good as having him by your side. His directions are full of his characteristic wit and humor and he shares his deep knowledge of Greek culture effortlessly, providing nuggets of history, botany and such miscellany as how to deal with fierce sheepdogs. Reading his descriptions may whet your appetite for taking every single walk, but he also tells you where you might not want to go if your legs are a bit weak or you have no head for heights.
But you don t have to have stout calves and hiking boots to enjoy this book. It also includes five possible car itineraries that take in suggestions for picnic spots, short walks and local landmarks. You'll find places in here that you won't find in any guidebooks, because Michael has been exploring the Greek mountains since childhood and worked on this guide for 10 years. If you think Greece is just islands and beaches, this book will introduce you to its other side, one that most visitors barely suspect exists. You couldn't be in better hands.' (DFL, Amazon)
© The Patrick Leigh Fermor Society 2014-2017