The Durrells in Corfu: Their film locations
Greece has a knack of producing and inspiring writers and poets. Homer was hooked on Ithaca, Sappho was seduced by her native Lesbos, and Kazantzakis (remember Zorba?) was created on Crete. Fowles fell under the spell of Spetses, Lord Byron was bewitched by the eternal summer of all The Isles of Greece, and the Durrells, Gerald and Lawrence, were dazzled by Corfu.
Image source - © Netfalls Remy Musser / Shutterstock.com
The enormous international success of the recent TV series, The Durrells, has confirmed the enduring popularity of this most eccentric of English families, while at the same time showcasing Corfu’s myriad charms. The island's tourist board must be the happiest in the world.
Where is the Durrells' house in Corfu?
Mrs Durrell and three of her offspring – Leslie, Margot and Gerald – arrived in Corfu in 1935. Lawrence, the eldest sibling, had arrived a few months earlier with his wife at the time, Nancy.
Whilst Mrs Durrell settled into a "strawberry-pink villa" just outside Corfu Town, Lawrence and Nancy moved 10 miles up the coast to the tiny hamlet of Kalami Bay, where they took up residence at the White House.
In his ode to Corfu, Prospero’s Cell, Lawrence describes his beloved home in some detail:
“We have taken an old fisherman's house in the extreme north of the island... it offers all the charms of seclusion… A white house, set like a dice in a rock already venerable with the scars of wind and water. The hill runs clear up into the sky behind it, so that the cypresses and olives overhang this room in which I sit and write."
For the next four years, the Durrells lived an enchanted, exotic life, far from the drab dreariness of England. They made Corfiot friends, including the booming taxi-driving, American-accented Spiro, the erudite Theodore Stephanides, and Maria Kondos - a maid with whom Leslie would later have an affair and a child.
With the outbreak of the 2nd World War, Mother Durrell and her three younger children returned to England. Lawrence and Nancy stayed on for a while but were forced to flee as the Axis powers swept through Greece.
The Durrells' White House
The TV series is based on Gerald's Corfu Trilogy, an autobiography in three volumes: My Family and Other Animals (1956), Birds, Beasts and Relatives (1969), and The Garden of the Gods (1978). These books sold in their millions and catapulted the Durrell family to worldwide fame. They also contributed significantly to Corfu’s rise as a popular holiday destination.
Gerald's fascination with animals and the natural world flowered during his time in Corfu. He became a renowned conservationist and owner of a zoo on Jersey. For him, writing was something of a sideline: for his brother, Lawrence, it was an art.
Prospero's Cell, Lawrence's homage to Corfu, its people, its traditions, its myths, and its history, was published in 1945. It is at once poetic ("cool as the breath from the heart of a melon"), thought-provoking, curious and exquisitely nostalgic.
Lawrence became one of England's greatest authors of the 20th century - after publishing The Alexandria Quartet in 1962, he was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature alongside John Steinbeck, Robert Graves and Jean Anouilh.
The White House, his beloved home on Corfu, still stands at the head of Kalami Bay. Now a café, bar and taverna, we warmly recommend you stop off for a drink or two, ideally with a copy of Prospero's Cell in hand.
Where was The Durrells filmed?
Corfu Town - the island's photogenic UNESCO World Heritage Site capital is one of the stars of the show
Kalami Bay - home not only of the White House, but also our villas Jasmine and Josephine House
Agni Bay - just around the headland from Kalami, Agni Bay boasts a lovely beach and three excellent seafront tavernas
Agios Stefanos - a picturesque bay and village in the northeastern corner of Corfu. Our villas Daphne and Yasemia are just around the headland
Kontokali - the Durrell's idyllic home in the TV series is near Gouvia on the Kontokali peninsula.
Mon Repos - a grand villa to the south of Corfu Town, famous for being the birthplace of the Duke of Edinburgh
Danilia Village - just to the west of Gouvia, Danilia is a privately-owned reconstruction of a traditional 1930s Corfiot village. There's a church, a coffee house, and a couple of tavernas. It works perfectly as a film set - parts of For Your Eyes Only were also filmed there
As well as The Durrells in Corfu, other iconic films and shows used the backdrop of mesmeric Greece. See more films set in Greece, from Bond to Mamma Mia!
Luxury villas in Corfu
If you’re looking to visit these fascinating locations and historic centerpieces of The Durrells, we have a luxury selection of villas on Corfu that are perfectly placed.
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