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The Durrell family are immortalised in Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals and its ITV adaptation, The Durrells. But what of the real life Durrells? Why did they go to Corfu in the first place – and what happened to them after they left?
The real story of the Durrells is as surprising and fascinating as anything in Gerry's books, and Michael Haag, with his first hand knowledge of the family, is the ideal narrator, drawing on diaries, letters and unpublished autobiographical fragments.
The Durrells of Corfu describes the family's upbringing in India and the crisis that brought them to England and then Greece. It recalls the genuine characters they encountered on Corfu – Theodore the biologist, the taxi driver Spiro Halikiopoulos and the prisoner Kosti – as well as the visit of American writer Henry Miller. And Haag has unearthed the story of how the Durrells left Corfu, including Margo's and Larry's last-minute escapes before the War. An extended epilogue looks at the emergence of Larry as a world famous novelist, and Gerry as a naturalist and champion of endangered species, as well as the lives of the rest of the family, their friends and other animals.
The Durrells of Corfu is illustrated with family photos from the Gerald Durrell Archive, many of them reproduced here for the first time.
Michael Haag knew Lawrence Durrell (and met Gerry and Margo) and is currently writing a biography of Lawrence Durrell for Yale University Press, which also published his Alexandria: City of Memory, a definitive study of Cavafy, Forster and Lawrence Durrell in the city. Haag is also author of a dozen books, including, for Profile, The Tragedy of the Templars and The Quest for Mary Magdalene.
"This real life story of the Durrell family is fascinating – Haag brilliantly traces their footsteps in pre-war Corfu, England and India"
– Simon Nye, Writer, ITV 's The Durrells
"Family stories are worth telling, and this one is fascinatingly put together by Michael Haag. For few families present such an entertaining patchwork tale as the Durrells."
– Daily Mail
"A lively and appreciative study."
"Given their talent for mythmaking, The Durrells of Corfu is probably as fine an introduction to the real lives of this remarkable family as could be written."
– Sydney Morning Herald
"Haag vividly evokes the time and the place with sumptuous descriptions [...] [he] has written a love letter to an extraordinary family. As families and other animals go, the Durrells are a breed of their own."
– Daily Express