Patrick Leigh Fermor, or Paddy as we knew him, was a great friend of my parents in law both of whom he was very close to and because of that we saw a bit of him. He was often very amusing and could think in almost any language, he could do a great turn singing songs in unexpected languages, such as nursery rhymes in Latin which would always bring a laugh as we sat around after dinner.
Paddy with Pat Trevor-Roper Christmas 2002
He was a cult figure in travel writing circles. I had read and very much enjoyed A Time of Gifts which was the first book of three describing his journey on foot from The Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933/34.
One weekend I sat and drew him as he worked at some writing. When you are staying somewhere at the same time as someone who is already very good friends with the assembled cast of characters it can be a little hard to get going with them. They have so much common ground in their years of jokes and experiences with the other people there that it’s easy to get left out. Spending a couple of hours together me drawing while he sat at the desk I felt that I at last got to know him a bit. I kept thinking of Dirk Bogarde playing him in Ill Met by Moonlight. This was a film of a book based on Paddy’s wartime exploits in Greece where he was a war hero. ?Disguised as a shepherd and going by the name Michalis he lived for two years in the mountains of occupied Crete and famously capturing the German commander General Heinrich Kreipe. .
I was very engrossed in teaching myself more about etching at the time and struck on the idea of a series of etchings of writers. I etched a version of the drawing onto a zinc plate in an edition of 40.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, etching with aquatint
There has been quite a bit about him recently as Artimis Cooper has just finished posthumously putting together the third and final volume of his travels titled The Broken Road available here
He had never finished the third volume but she has managed to piece it together from the unfinished manuscript and some notes and diaries.
It seems a good time to take a couple of the prints of my Paddy Leigh Fermor etching to the Ramsay gallery which I did the other day.
Ramsay Gallery in Ebury St London SW1
I went on to do etchings of the biographer Victoria Glendenning and also the historian, Robert Key. I shall do more authors as and when. They are a great subject and there is much to be done.