A writers’ friendship that – how else – started with a flaming correspondence.
Most probably without Lawrence Durrell’s flaming fan letter on his first published book, Henry V. Miller would never have gained worldwide fame. As he would never have written The Colossus of Marousi. As he would never have travelled to Greece. As he would not have received Durrell’s invitation to visit him on his beloved island Corfu at The White House in Kalami. But let’s start from scratch!
In Paris throughout the 1930s Henry V. Miller wrote and published Tropic of Cancer. The novel was banned for obscenity in Britain and America, but Lawrence Durrell managed to get hold of a copy in Corfu – and shot off an admiring and enthusiastic letter to Miller who replied: ‘Your letter is so vivid, so keen, that I am curious to know if you are not a writer yourself’. This exchange, in 1935, marked the beginning of a lifetime friendship between the two.
‘Durrell, and Nancy his wife, were like a couple of dolphins; they practically lived in the water.’
In 1939, Miller finally visited Lawrence and Nancy Durrell in Corfu, and stayed with them in ‘The White House’ for some weeks and from there started his 9-month travels throughout Greece – which ended up the mentioned world famous book about his travels, The Colossus of Maroussi. In the book, Miller offers some interesting glimpses into Nancy and Lawrence’s relationship and life on Corfu:
Durrell, and Nancy his wife, were like a couple of dolphins; they practically lived in the water. Or, when during a trip to the Greek their car broke down: “Why don’t you try to do something?’ said Nancy. Durrell was saying, as he usually did when Nancy proffered her advice, ‘Why don’t you shut up?”
Henry V. Miller loved the atmosphere at The White House and stayed even after Lawrence and Nancy had left due to the on-going war. Accompanied by Lawrence’s mother Margret he enjoyed the quietness and peace and sea in the Kalami bay. As you can do nowadays. Maybe reading one of his or Durrell’s books out on the rocks where Miller and Durrell used to sit after their swims and chat on life and literature. Naked.
You can leave your clothes on though!