Without Lawrence Durrell’s flaming fan mail about his first published book, Henry V. Miller may never have gained worldwide fame as he wouldn’t have written The Colossus of Marousi. He wouldn’t have travelled to Greece. He wouldn’t have received Durrell’s invitation to visit him on his beloved island Corfu at The White House.
But let’s start this story from the beginning…
In Paris in 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 after reading it, 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 men.
‘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, then from there embarked on his 9-month travel adventure throughout Greece. This journey transpired into the famous book about Miller’s travels, The Colossus of Maroussi. In this 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 encroachment of War World Two in 1939. Accompanied by Lawrence’s sister, Margo, he stayed on and enjoyed the quietness, peace and sea of Kalami bay. Just as you can do nowadays. Maybe reading one of his or the Durrell’s brother’s books, sitting out on the rocks where Miller and Durrell used to sit after their swims and chat on life and literature. Quite often naked!